How could blockchain change the face of litigation?

You’ve probably heard about the impact blockchain technology will have on the financial sector but were you aware innovators are working hard to make sure the legal sector also profits?

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How could blockchain change the face of litigation?

There are many potential (though, up to this point, unrealised) benefits of being able to record and refer to an incorruptible ledger that is self-auditing and decentralised in terms of storage and updating.  A Blockchain based database relies on the collaboration of a network of contributors whose every input is time-stamped and then entered into a chain that is copied into each entry as it develops.  Each contributor has an irreplaceable and uncopiable private ‘key’ that pairs with the chain to make any contribution or interaction verifiable and secure.

The entries – or ‘blocks’ – are indisputable.  This means the data stored within each record and, by extension, the respective blockchain is more trustworthy than records have ever been before.

So what does it mean for the legal world and, more specifically, for litigation?

Currently business-to-business e-discovery in litigation is more often than not a monumental task.  The established modern solutions rely on keyword searching and tiered review to narrow the key documents and identify the issues in a claim.  However, if the decision making processes and documentation relating to it were to be incorporated into a blockchain database that has been coded to understand potential/common disputes, discovery could be automated. It would also provide greater certainty in the authenticity of documentation, decision making and accountability of everyone involved in the dispute.

Moreover, if something was to go wrong in a project, an error would highlight the issue and produce the relevant information as it was originally stored and encrypted on the database.  This type of defined error could also, for example, be used to audit an individual product’s supply chain as the issue would be automatically connected to an alleged defect or alternatively demonstrate its lack of deficiency.

This alone would have the potential to not only reduce front-loaded, document heavy discovery in litigation (and slightly reduce the hours a client would have to pay for to undertake that discovery) but could very well help the parties involved come to a faster settlement given the cause of the dispute would be instantly identifiable and easily verifiable.

Although the above are examples of what is likely to happen, one application experts and innovators seem to agree on is blockchain’s potential to provide greater certainty to the legal sector in terms of service of documents.

Whilst the current system of trust and certification in document service has the confidence of the legal sector, it can only benefit if the service providers, postal services, Court, counsel and each party’s solicitors had real time, verifiable, accountable service records.  Access to those records would largely defeat the need to go out of one’s way to verify safe-delivery and would underline whether or not a specific service has been effective.

At Keebles we’re always looking for ways to improve our practice and be innovative and the above is just a snapshot into what may lie ahead for the implementation of blockchain in litigation.  We will therefore remain observant of breaking legal technologies going forward, so keep watching this space as we continue to cover future developments.

If you are facing any type of personal or business dispute and would like to discuss how best to tackle that dispute, please email andrew.broadbent@keebles.com

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