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Blockchain and Online Dispute Resolution in Qatar at Hamad Bin Khalifa University
3 min read
The webinar saw outstanding participation by HBKU’s students and we were pleased to engage in an interesting Q&A session with the University’s Dean, Susan L. Karamanian. On the 23rd of September, we were invited by the prestigious Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar to talk about how blockchain technology can impact dispute resolution. Professor Georgios Dimitropoulos, Associate Professor of Law at HBKU Law and Research Associate at the University College London Centre for Blockchain Technologies, chaired the event. HBKU's webinar page The webinar saw outstanding participation by HBKU’s students and we were pleased to engage in an interesting Q&A session with the university’s Dean, Susan L. Karamanian. In her words: Technology already has and will continue to have a major role in improving the efficiency of courts.  The webinar we co-organized with Jur was eye-opening, as our HBKU Law students learned about dispute resolution in the virtual world.  For them, it is very likely that the trip to the courthouse will no longer involve a lengthy commute followed by a wait to appear in front of a judge.  It may very well involve some clicks on a keyboard. This change will be profound. HBKU Law looks forward to having more interactions with Jur to help lead this conversation in the Middle East.Dean Susan L. Karamanian, Hamad Bin Khalifa University College of Law The participants reached the conclusion that blockchain can disrupt the justice system and contribute to increasing its transparency and impartiality. We have seen this as a recurring theme during our webinars across the world where we got in touch with communities from Mexico to South Africa to China. The response to the previous webinars was overwhelming, with an average participation of 133 registrants (90% legal tech lawyers) per webinar, in which we got the chance to connect, talk, and engage with around 300 law firms in 65 countries and 254 cities.  Our answer to the major problem of access to justice is our upcoming product 1, the Open Justice Platform, which we plan to release in Q1 ‘21. If you want to know more about it, please check out justice.jur.io. As in the past series of webinars, our speakers mostly focused on the relationship between smart contracts and traditional contracts (our CLO, Raffaele Battaglini), dispute resolution and blockchain with a specific focus on alternative dispute resolution (our legal engineer, Luigi Cantisani), how decentralization and blockchain solutions should be built in stages progressing from simple to complex features, and how complex is to create a blockchain-based platform compared to a traditional centralized platform (our CEO, Alessandro Palombo). It has been an extremely valuable session and experience. I think our students got important insights into how blockchain can impact certain aspects of the dispute resolution process. It is extremely important for them to hear from individuals that are shaping the field and have an impact on the “future of justice”.Professor Georgios Dimitropoulos, Associate Professor of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University Law College of Law I believe that blockchain technology will have a major role to play in the upcoming years, also because of the COVID pandemic, and I look forward to seeing the launch of the Open Justice Platform and letting our students test it - added professor Georgios. A final Q&A session was moderated by Prof. Dimitropoulos together with our CTO, Luca Y. Daniel. This section saw the participation of a lot of students and showed how interesting these topics are to a young legal audience eager to know more about blockchain technology and how it might affect their future careers. https://youtu.be/mK_9w9n5pvU Check the replay of the webinar We stopped by after the webinar to ask our hosts to share their thoughts on the webinar and the impact of technology when it comes to dispute resolution. A final thought from our CEO Alessandro Palombo: I was impressed with the community’s reaction to this event. It was in the pipeline for a long time and I am pleased that despite COVID, we were able to get in touch with HBKU’s students and share our knowledge of blockchain technology with them and discuss how it can impact their future careers as lawyers and dispute resolution professionals.Alessandro Palombo, CEO of Jur I am looking forward to collaborating more with HBKU and other universities in the Middle East to spread awareness of blockchain technology and involve them in testing our upcoming Open Justice Platform - he added. Get started with the Open Justice Platform

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Dalya Droste Winner of the Smart Legal Contract Competition, Joins the Jur Internship Program
A combination of creativity, legal knowledge, and computational logic earned Dalya the well-deserved honour of the first place. She is now joining Jur’s Internship Program for the next three months. Earlier this Spring, Jur and IE University held a smart contract competition that would both reward enterprising law students while also providing valuable feedback and testing on the Jur Beta Platform, Jur’s first dApp for decentralized justice solutions. All law students at the university were invited to take part, and were given a series of tasks that included writing a smart legal contract putting legal clauses into computational logic. This was made harder by the fact that the smart contracts had to apply to a vague subject matter such as all forms of freelance contracts, while being incredibly specific on technicalities so that all possibilities would be covered in the event of a dispute.  Students watch on as our team explains the role of blockchain in ODR The eventual winner, Dalya Droste, comes from a unique background as she was born in Germany but spent part of her youth in Wales while attending international schools, giving her a desire to explore various aspects of international law at IE University in Segovia. Her diverse upbringing helped foster a passion for understanding the different perspectives and cultures around the world, which she believes plays an important role in understanding law. After the completion of her dual Bachelor's degree in Law and International Relations, she is contemplating how legal tech can help her accomplish her lofty ambitions.  As part of the competition, students had to create disputes on the Jur Open Layer. The Jur Open Layer allows anyone with JUR tokens to vote on disputes by staking tokens on the proposed resolution coming from each party they believe is the fairest by analyzing the contracts KPIs and the evidence provided by the parties. Read on for the entire interview on what it was like to participate in the Smart Contract Competition at IE with Jur. What was your strategy in the competition? “We had our fun with it. We made our freelance contract about designing a breed of rubber ducks. The twist was that the rubber ducks were actually a breed of real ducks, and that certain complications could arise during the delivery phase, including if the rubber ducks flew away right after being delivered. In that way, the dispute was designed to be a little controversial, because there were elements that weren’t regulated by the contract itself. We left a little bit of a hole and we wanted to see how the voters reacted to it.”  The Lab for New Justice is led by Jur’s Legal Engineer Luigi Cantisani To draft smart contracts, the teams participating in the Smart Contract Competition had to go through a computer science and game theory section.  Dalya has been exposed to programming languages since her early education. This made it easy for her to apply herself to this task, analyzing how language can be translated into mathematical concepts using “if-then” statements.  What challenges did you face during the competition?  “Making an entire contract like that, you have so many IFs, that you can not cater to all of them. We really had to decide what technicalities could be simplified to the extent that it fits into the “if-then” logic.”  To cap off the competition, each contestant had to submit a legal assessment in report form. She researched the background of the legal basis for smart contracts and ODR systems, and found that rules varied greatly by jurisdiction, even within the EU. This creates an important upcoming phase for the maturity of legal tech, which Dalya thinks should prove pivotal. She isn’t blind to the fact that decentralization, in the context of the Jur Beta Platform, essentially integrates crowd-based algorithms in the justice process, removing the traditional role of a centralized decision maker from the position of determining what is right or wrong. This opens the door to potential Mob Justice, which is a topic she focused her assessment on. Jur solves this problem of Mob Justice with ODR by having multiple layers to the system, which can escalate a case from the Open Layer to the Open Justice Platform’s official digital hubs if unusual voting patterns are detected.  Students like Dalya are part of the new generation of technology-minded law professionals that want to impact the legal system. Dalya has an interesting outlook on legal tech and believes that both law and technology will be intertwined in the years ahead. She appears to be destined for the next generation of legal professionals who can both practice law and think computationally or even write code.  Will lawyers need to be tech-literate and need to understand code? "The use of technology forces the legal profession to evolve even more towards a creative problem-solving approach; a complex single jurisdictional issue can quickly become complicated by the back-end code, location of servers, etc. all of this must be navigated to solve this one issue. By learning about a variety of legal systems it enables flexible approaches. Simply looking at precedent or the traditional solution to a problem may no longer suffice and this is the challenge I believe future lawyers will face." As a reward for her success in the competition, Dalya has secured an internship with Jur to further her research and investigation of the legal tech space. She hasn’t decided where her future career plans will take her, but she sees a lot of potential in understanding how traditional legal systems and innovative new systems will join together. She’s now looking forward to working with Jur this summer as the project continues to develop.  What will you be contributing as part of your internship with Jur? “I am excited to delve further into the technicalities of maintaining a multi-layered Dispute Resolution System, learning more about smart contracts and the way in which interactions on this platform take place.” Once again, congratulations to Dalya on her success and we look forward to exploring the concept of dispute resolution with her ingenuity, talent, and passion for legal tech. Jur is currently developing the world first multi-jurisdiction dispute resolution platform: the Jur Open Justice Platform.
Jur’s Solutions are brought into the Academics
Ludovica Troili is a trainee lawyer, recently graduated at the University of Roma Tre in Law with a thesis in International Arbitration. Her work, entitled “International Arbitration and the challenges with the new technologies”, focuses on smart contracts and the lack of a dispute resolution method. That’s why she dedicated the last chapter of her thesis to Jur’s online courts. This article has been written by Ludovica Troili. As someone passionate about International Arbitration, after having deepened it both at a theoretical and practical level, I was looking for an innovative topic to develop in my thesis project. During my research, I came across a conference organized by the Court of Appeal in Rome regarding the impact of new technologies on ADR systems, thus, from that moment, I have made my decision. If my initial goal was to explore the new frontiers of arbitration, I, finally, found myself studying blockchain technologies and, then analysing what may be their potential impact in the legal area. This has been the main question that I have tried to answer through my thesis. Hence, it is now necessary to take a step back to explain how I got there. At first, as a beginner in the blockchain world, I devoted myself to unbridled research, by the means of books, manuals and every document on the subject available and participation in conferences, seminars, and events on the subject. During this period, I had the opportunity to debate the topic with numerous experts in various fields: mainly, (i) the professional used to employ the blockchain technologies in his/her daily activity; (ii) the student/post-graduate with a passion for this “new” economic system; (iii) the engineer or the computer technician involved with the language code and all its potentialities; (iv) the lawyer with a focus firmly directed towards the future. At the end of my research, the most relevant aspect I have found was the high percentage of leading experts in new technologies and blockchain, all sharing a total lack of interest and consideration for the impact that the operations undertook with these technologies could have on a legal level. As a legal specialist, I find it impossible to exercise any kind of business activity, without the awareness of the aspects and the legal implications connected with it. Therefore, once noted all those people who used to implement their activities through the blockchain technologies – without any regard to the legal protection that they could have had nor to the legal consequences that these operations which implemented in the virtual world could have had in the physical world –  has made it imperative to me to study a solution to overcome this significant gap. The latter represented, later on, the very heart of my thesis project. At the end of this path, I found myself with the handing over of my Paper, while at the same time, the COVID-19 began to expand world-wide, with the result that, in the middle of the pandemic, I graduated online in mid-March. This degree has been a clear demonstration of how such a dramatic situation has brought everyone, even the most reticent ones, closer to the daily use of technology. What was once perceived as an option has become a need, and in the past weeks, as a legal specialist, I have been able to analyse how such a need was felt within the legal area. In Italy, both many judicial and extra-judicial bodies have made a significant effort to implement remote hearings and, further, most law firms have facilitated the possibility to hold meetings in videoconference. All of these to sum up to the sponsorship of a huge number of webinars that are spreading on the Internet, in order to promote the running of distance conventions and seminars. Everyone is striving to avoid that the isolation and social distancing do not also involve immobilization of the life of each one. It is hoped that such a motivation to eliminate the distance between the legal area and technological evolution would work as a starting point for an even closer future collaboration between these two worlds. In this regard, in my thesis project – based on the convergence between these two areas – I analysed the advent of blockchain technologies and its legal implications. More specifically, the purpose is the one to deepen the issue of smart contracts and the lack of a dispute resolution mechanism, proposing, then, International Arbitration. The subject is introduced through an overview of the definition of blockchain technologies and, especially, smart contracts, dealing with their main features, functions, and practical application. After highlighting the technical characteristics of the said tools, the Paper shifts to their legal evaluation. As a result, doubts arise with regard to the legal nature of smart contracts, by leading, inevitably, to significant uncertainty about their jurisdiction and the suitable method for settling disputes. Given the numerous different views on such issues, a possible solution can be found in the figure of smart legal contracts, a hybrid version of smart contracts, where both the human language form and the code form of a single contract are combined and anchored within a valid legal framework. It is, in fact, a traditional contract able to be executed entirely or partially by a machine, the contracting parties will thus be able to take advantage of the automatic performance through the smart contract, having, at the same time, a traditional version of the contract which expresses in detail the agreed terms and conditions. Against this background, the Paper suggests the applicability of International Arbitration as the perfect candidate to facilitate the settlement of transnational disputes arising from such kinds of “digital agreements”. In this way, it would be possible to overcome all the above-mentioned doubts though a neutral procedure, supported by a body of legal experts specialised in the present field, with a flexible procedure tailor-made by the parties, and, finally, characterized by the binding character of the final decision taken by the Arbitral Tribunal, recognizable and executable in more than 160 countries. Follow Ludovica on Linkedin In the last chapter of the thesis, in order to provide a practical representation of what has been said on a theoretical level, I reported the case study of Jur, a platform based on blockchain technology, which enables, firstly, every kind of users (even the ones with zero knowledge in legal / tech matters) to create smart contracts and initiate activities on the network, supported by technical and legal experts all around the world, secondly, it grants the parties to choose over three different ways to solve every eventual conflict, according to their needs (Open Layer; Community Layer; Court Layer)*. The above describes the possibility to settle disputes, of any nature and size, in an online procedure implemented on the blockchain, by virtue of all its inherent advantages, such as the possibility to save costs and time, to process a large volume of data in a fraction of time with no margin of error, to securely implement the proceeding due to the high cybersecurity and cryptography, and to manage original and authentic legal documents, given the immutability of the platform. In view of the above considerations, the hope is that what right now has been implemented as an exception may, in the next future, be confirmed as the rule. [Editor’s note: Jur is currently developing a new platform, called Open Justice, that sums up the theory behind the above-mentioned Court Layer to provide a fast, reliable and completely online procedure for dispute resolution world-wide] *See Jur’s white paper for more information Do you want to follow all the updates about Jur?