JUR page loader
What is a Hub: Next Generation of Digital Courts
5 min read
A fast-forward story on how the law was born and how it is becoming increasingly digital and accessible, also thanks to the Hub of the Open Justice Platform. In this article, we are going to show you that digital courts are not only possible but desirable, and more importantly, that internet-based private courthouses will soon be available to the public thanks to Jur’s Open Justice Platform for resolving disputes online.  Follow along in the journey that led to the digitalisation of traditional laws and systems.  The Birth of Law and Society Before we dive into what a Hub or a digital court is, let us first understand what courts are. When society was born, Law was created to manage the relationships among its community members. If you are a legal professional you will be aware of the old Latin saying: ubi societas, ibi ius  Which means, “where there is a society, there is the Rule of Law”. The Rule of Law is actually effective when there is a “judge” who acts as controller/enforcer. The absence of this figure could lead someone to disregard and disrespect the Rule of Law, causing frictions within society, or as we now legally call them, jurisdictions.Jurisdiction originates from two Latin words “Jus - dicere”, which means “to say/proclaim what is right or wrong in a specific case”. As you may guess by now,  from this name (iurisdictio, in Latin) comes also the name of our project: Jur, as in the first three letters of Jurisdiction. Digital Courts Before They Were Digital Let us fast forward from ancient societies to the middle-ages. During this time, private tribunals were created by commercial guilds to judge who was right and who was wrong on commercial matters. At that time, cCourts - the place where law was  exercised - were not as public as they are today.  With the age of democratic republics, constitutional charts started proclaiming the importance of an independent, impartial Jurisdiction entity in any country. You might have heard of Montesquieu’s work on the “three powers” of a State: legislative, executive and judiciary. The last is what we are focusing on in this article. In a democratic society, every citizen should know that the courts are managed in a fully impartial way. The judiciary power is separated from politics and other external influences. The most important aspect is that being a “public” court is what guarantees impartiality, the professionalism for ensuring “true, authentic judgments”.  Society needs impartiality and quality judgements as they impact on the private autonomy of citizens. Let’s add another specification. There are normally (and beware, this is a huge simplification) three sectors of “Jurisdiction”: Criminal Law, Public Law, and Civil & Commercial Law. In Criminal Law, it is evident to everyone how it is crucial that only publicly selected judges can decide if someone has to suffer a punishment which implies a limitation of his freedom. The limitation to the freedom of a citizen requires a high level of control from the State. Let’s look at this from the other angle. As a citizen, you are part of an “original consensual social agreement” according to which you delegate the State, and you give it part of your freedom so that the State can exercise its power to ensure that everyone has a serene, safe social life in the community.  This means, for example, that you authorized the State to put you in prison if your behaviour goes against the safety of another citizen. The specific course of this type of court proceeding is different from the Civil one. Public Law, on the other hand, concerns itself with matters such as public procurements issued by a public authority. This does not concern generally private individuals in most cases.  Lastly, there is the Civil Law, which is essentially everything that does not pertain to the previous two Laws.  Why the Need for Digital Courts Why this long introduction to explain the concept of a Hub? It is because a Hub represents something new built on old legal foundations. Without context, a Hub will be difficult to understand. In the Civil and Commercial areas, the “original consensual agreement” has been interpreted in a lighter way because consequences of judgment do not impact the freedom of the individual as in the criminal field. For the past century, in order to reduce a public court’s backlog to give a more efficient service to its community, new “private methods of dispute resolution” have been recognized in every State. Every national law espouses several alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR) and this trend is only growing. The State firmly exercises its power and authority over Criminal and Public Law for matters that involve individuals and companies. However, the State has also noticed that certain private bodies could follow a similar level of due process as a public court while ensuring impartial and professional judgments. This has led to the question: why not allow these private bodies to enforce the law on Civil Law matters? Among all ADRs, arbitration in the last decade has been recognized in most of the States as equivalent to the judgment of a public court. In a nutshell, if arbitration is properly held, the arbitration award (i.e. the judgment) is equivalent to the judgment of a public court. After receiving an arbitral award one just has to obtain a rubber stamp from a court testifying that due process was followed but does not enter into the merit of the dispute.  This is where our Open Justice Platform comes into the picture and why we believe it is the “future of justice”. We have taken an international standard for arbitration of the United Nations (UNCITRAL 1985) and completely digitized its flow. With some minor amendments, this standard is legally-binding in 166 jurisdictions.  What we did is take this efficient standard and try to make it accessible to everyone. In today’s world, almost no one uses arbitration because its costs are prohibitive. It generally delivers high-quality judgments in a very efficient way but it works well only for big agreements. It has a great untapped potential, which is why we want to make UNCITRAL work for professionals, small and medium businesses. Hubs: The Digital Courts of Today Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s time to answer the original question: What is a Hub? A Hub is a digital courthouse (or more technically a “digital” Arbitration Chamber) made on the Open Justice Platform. In the platform, a Hub plays the role of a private body that administers online justice procedures through means of a legally-binding arbitration.  Simply put, a Hub is a new form of the private courthouse, completely digital, efficient, and extremely fast.  How will you have access to this new efficient system? In the future, when you do any kind of business or civil agreement, be sure to put a clause in the agreement where you say that in case of a dispute you want to use a Hub on Jur over public courts. Join the Future of Justice. Join Jur.  We are developing the first multi-jurisdiction online dispute resolution platform, the Open Justice Platform. Learn more.

Join our community

Subscribe to the Jur newsletter to get a monthly update on our ecosystem and how interesting insights on our products.