Blockchain-based digital court launches in Japan

Researchers from some leading universities have created a blockchain-based digital court. The court will initially target cases involving contracts, sales, auctions and other civil cases. It will identify and punish those who deviate from legal obligations.

The project was led by Professor Hitoshi Matsushima from the University of Tokyo in Japan and Shunya Noda from the University of British Columbia in Canada. In their press release, the researchers stated that the new system can be implemented right away as it relies on existing technology. It eliminates the need for a costly legal process and avails justice to all.

The involved parties will make a deposit before the trial begins, Professor Matsushima explained. He stated, “On suspected violation of some agreement, those involved post their opinions to this digital court. The court algorithmically aggregates the parties’ opinions and judges who violated their agreement. If the digital court judges that a party violated the agreement, the party is fined by withholding a deposit made during the initial agreement.”

Most of the processes involved will occur away from the blockchain, the researchers stated. The blockchain will only be used to maintain records of the parties’ involvement with an agreement. This is to minimize costs, as increasing the number of interactions with a blockchain system can drive up the associated costs.

And while blockchain technology has proven to be very efficient, it has received a lot of bad press, with many associating the technology with many of the scams that have rocked the digital currency industry. Others have come to believe, falsely so, that the lack of a central authority in a blockchain system implies that it can be used for nefarious purposes by malicious parties. This system will be affected by this negative press, the researchers believe. Lawmakers must put regulations in place to protect the emerging technology.

“Blockchains in some ways are a double-edged sword. But this kind of system signals the dawn of a new economic paradigm that must be embraced and explored rather than feared and ignored. We have found a way to satisfy agreements without traditional legal enforcement or the long-term reciprocal relationships which might ordinarily keep the players honest,” Matsushima stated.

The use of blockchain in the justice system has continued to grow, with China’s smart courts the best example. These courts have settled millions of cases, combining blockchain with other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.