Author: Alpesh Kumar, III year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons.) From Chanakya National Law University.
Co-author: Shifali Gautam, IV year of B.A.,LL.B(Hons.) From Gujarat National Law University.
Blockchain technology is rapidly evolving and has the potential to disrupt every sector on the planet. Blockchain, which is well-known for its capacity to store data in a transparent and immutable ledger, provides organizations with a better degree of accuracy. The legal industry is likewise aiming to use distributed ledger technology to transform its business. It is therefore evident that blockchain technology is increasingly being used and is hence gaining acceptance despite the issues it carries with itself. This research paper will hus discuss the same in detail.
Keywords: Blockchain, technology, ledger, transaction, security.
Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, may be characterized as an open, distributed ledger that efficiently and permanently records transactions between users. Bitcoin is a subset of Blockchain technology, which is essentially a distributed multi-party ledger. It has the potential to improve the efficiency with which online transactions are conducted, comparable to the characteristics of other emerging technologies that aid in communication speed. Despite the pessimistic predictions, there is evidence that blockchain is a capable, innovative technology that will transform the way people deal, owing to its capacity to ensure confidence between unknown parties, protect data immutability, and eliminate the need for intermediaries. The benefits of Blockchain might be applied in supply chain management in the manufacturing, E-commerce, digital health, aviation, and retail sectors due to the possibility of smart contracts. As a result, the Blockchain architecture has the potential to revolutionize how companies and contracts are conducted. Although Blockchain allows for tamper-proof, verifiable, and transparent transactions, the underlying characteristics of decentralization have the potential to generate instability and upheaval in the present economic system. The bulk of governments have mostly ignored Blockchain technology's emergence. With its growing popularity, all legal regimes must determine if regulatory control of its usage is necessary, and if so, how to strike a balance between the Blockchain and the traditional system. Blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are well-known examples. Anyone may connect to the blockchain and conduct transactions on it. Anyone may operate a node on their computer and download a copy of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchains for free. In such situation, you may make money by participating as a block verifier (also known as a miner) and confirming transactions transmitted across the network by other users. Currently, a lawyer's responsibilities include gathering evidence in support of a client's viewpoint and utilizing that evidence to develop a logical argument. By automating the collection of evidence, blockchain may facilitate the streamlining of this procedure. For instance, instead of searching for data from many sources, conforming companies and institutions may send it directly to the attorneys. Open ledgers, like as Bitcoin, are accessible to all parties for inspection, and this openness may be very beneficial in situations of financial crime.
FEATURES OF BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
The properties of Blockchain that characterize it as a game-changing and disruptive technology are as follows:
A new block in the ledger may only be created if the transaction is approved by a majority of the network participants, as indicated in the procedure. Only once the ledger has verified that the information exchanged is cryptographically secure is this agreement formed. The data is updated and distributed across network members, making it worthy of trust.
A worldwide supply chain that uses blockchain technology may see an increase in transaction accuracy. Pricing monitoring systems and improved product distribution transparency might both benefit from the smart contract established using Blockchain technology. Real-time authentication is possible with blockchain, which might improve the long-term viability of the manufacturing process. Increased engagement in governance and decision-making might result from increasing the level of openness to the public.
The data on the Blockchain that is connected to the prior ledger cannot be changed, modified, or lost. A permanent and incorruptible record is created as a result of this method. An auditable ledger keeps track of all changes, guaranteeing complete transparency.
No need of a central regulatory authority
No one individual, central mediator, or government maintains the ledger database, which is open to all network members. As a result, the ledger transaction between the two parties may be verified without the need for a central authority. Therefore, the ability to issue money is "decentralized," which is a revolutionary development.
There has been an increase in public awareness of the risks of data security in conventional internet databases after the Cambridge Analytica affair. Governments across the globe have enacted strict data privacy rules, one of which being the European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Regulated guarantees alone can't address the problem of data security. This is when the Blockchain steps in to fill in the details that are missing. The encryption mechanism used to transfer information on the blockchain provides more security. As a result, it is an excellent choice for keeping highly confidential data, such as personal information.
BLOCKCHAIN AND LEGAL FRATERNITY
The Global Legal Blockchain Consortium wants to decentralize law, and blockchain might help. 70% of law firms surveyed by PwC expected to adopt smart contracts for transactional legal services in 2017.
41% of legal firms will utilize blockchain for transactional legal services, 21% for business support, and 31% for high-value legal services. Blockchain may help the legal profession create immutable, transparent databases. These might simplify smart contracts, mergers, and other transactions. Blockchain might make the legal sector more accessible by using digital signatures and smart contracts. It may cut legal costs, making it more affordable. It has the ability to promote industry transparency by offering an open, accessible database (ledger) to all stakeholders at all times. Blockchain might minimize administrative labor, leading to more cost-effective corporations. Blockchain will automate the legal system. Prefabricated smart contracts and other facilities might save lawyers time and money on administrative tasks. NITI Ayog recommended implementing blockchain into the judicial system in "Blockchain: The India Strategy Part I."
The legal field may benefit from Blockchain in the following ways:
Smart Agreements: Traditional contracting procedures are paper-based, time-consuming, and error-prone. Smart contracts would be available online, using AI and biotechnology databases, simplifying a lawyer's work.
Chain of Responsibility: Evidence gathering is crucial to any investigation. Keeping evidence on hand may be time-consuming and error prone. Storing a lot of evidence may be tough. Making evidence easily accessible in case of a long-term dispute may be an issue again. Keeping the chain of custody online, on an immutable, transparent, and secure platform, is more practicable. When forensics obtains crime scene evidence, it may be uploaded as a block to a chain and accessed immediately. Finally, evidence custodians have quick access to forensic findings and analysis.
IP: IP filing, like ordinary contracts, is time-consuming and may need several administrative duties. Approval times may be decreased, and necessary resources can be delivered using blockchain technology. This may also be done in a supposedly straightforward manner:
Content makers register on the site and provide government-approved personal information.
After signing up, content providers may create an intellectual property for which they intend to submit a patent and then publish the details about their IP on the blockchain network.
Consumers of content may log in to the site and request IP access. In this instance, content producers may provide a smart contract and request payment.
Legal experts might assist in resolving any potential conflicts.
Conflict and Settlement: Using a blockchain-enabled litigation app, a plaintiff might first login and provide his personal information and complaints to the blockchain-based litigation app. When they're ready, they may use the app to find specialized legal counsel and make contact with them. Email or text messages are used to notify both sides of the lawsuit, which is subsequently filed. It's possible for the defendant to use the app to get a lawyer, just like the prosecution. There are no papers or contracts that can be tampered with since the blockchain is immutable. Finally, a judge has the ability to view the time-stamped records of information and resolve disagreements between the parties involved in the lawsuits.
Corporate documents: Blockchain technology records every company record and transaction on an immutable, secure, and transparent platform. These documents will be accessible eternally as blocks and may be accessed at any moment without attorneys' management.
Criminal cases: According to a study released by The Police Foundation in the United Kingdom, blockchain might improve the criminal justice system's burdensome paperwork in the following ways:
Information would be more accessible to the general population.
Viewing permissions may be established at different levels.
The papers would have an auditable trail of modifications.
Interested parties might get quick updates.
The accuracy of records would be considerably improved.
As more data is made available to the public, a "glass government" is emerging.
Document notarization: The process of notarizing a document ensures its proper execution by validating its legitimacy. Because blockchain technology uses timestamps and hashes to record transactions, it may make document notarization easier. Companies that provide notarization services may quickly establish the presence of a document by employing time stamps.
Land Registries and Title Deeds: Blockchain simplifies land ownership paperwork. It might improve brokers' record transparency, update, and security. All government property data will be on the blockchain by 2020, according to the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. Cook County, Illinois established a blockchain pilot program in 2016 and successfully implemented it in May 2017.
ODR: Commercial arbitration is a low-cost, rapid, and private option. Using blockchain technology, ODR systems might provide secure cross-border and international dispute resolution. With many nations embracing blockchain ODR, it's logical to expect future courts to be more cost-effective in settling commercial conflicts. The Aragon Court agreed to allow users to report complaints or serve as jurors. Proposal Agreements are originally handled by the Aragon Court, but the underlying technology has the potential to arbitrate any two-way issue. Jur, Kleros, Doges, and Oath are all similar systems.
Roles in Blockchain Workforce for Lawyers: Any new idea creates jobs. Blockchain might produce occupations like 'smart contract programmer/auditor' in the legal field.
The technology of distributed ledgers Blockchain has the potential to transform the current world, making it a gift to humanity. Despite its frightening nature, the Blockchain, like the early days of the Internet, has the potential to alter governmental supervision. The necessity of the hour is to create legal frameworks that will enable Blockchain technologies to flourish. Blockchain might help regulators keep track of specific activity and verify legal compliance. It might be utilized in financial markets, AML compliance, market manipulation monitoring, and other industries by assessing cryptographic verifiability. Blockchain is the most revolutionary technology since the Internet. Smart contracts, corporate filings, criminal cases, dispute resolution, document notarizations, industry associations, intellectual property rights, land registries and property deeds, law firm operations, and public service records will be affected by transformation. All these involve lawyers. Both clients and attorneys should be tech-savvy. A lawyer may use blockchain to further a client's interests by exploring novel legal applications.