Understanding blockchain technology
Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to hack, alter, or deceive the system. Each block in the chain contains many transactions, and every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to the ledger. Thus if one block in one chain was changed, it would be immediately apparent that it had been tampered with. If the hackers want to hack a blockchain system, they would have to change every block in the chain.
Blockchain technology and arbitration
The arbitration process can be broken down into six essential ingredients. Blockchain with some ingredients of artificial Intelligence can make the arbitration process flawless and free from human arbitration.
Process of arbitration:
- Notice of Arbitration.
The process of arbitration starts with the notice of arbitration sent by the claimant. It does not matter if the parties did not expressly agree to the conduct of arbitration using blockchain. The claimant will be required to create a digital platform using a simple blockchain algorithm. This platform will be duplicated at the respondent’s place of operation so that the arbitration can be conducted smoothly. It’s like a platform where both parties exchange information. Parties can agree to use a single server at either party’s location or have independent servers. This is blockchain. This blockchain is to be provided to all the stakeholders in an arbitration.
- Appointment of arbitrator
Once the notice of arbitration has been sent, the appointment of an arbitrator can be done through blockchain. Thus the exchange of documents, emails, and messages, etc. are all recorded automatically and replicated at all stakeholders computers without any involvement of any third party. The case management conference can be done online using a video conferencing facility of blockchain which gets automatically recorded and filed at the computers of all stakeholders in original and this cannot be manipulated. Not just that, calls to parties can also be done using VoIP calling facility and recorded automatically.
- The Pleadings
The pleadings including a statement of claim, statement of defense, counterclaims, and reply to counterclaims and further submissions can be submitted online and are automatically served to the parties & the tribunal along with automated acknowledgment. This ensures timely submissions. Any delays will also be penalized in terms of the penalty prescribed by the tribunal or as agreed by the parties. The fear of ex-parte communication will also be mitigated when the procedural orders and communication by the tribunal will be auto-delivered to both parties.
- Interim Measures
Interim measures that are sought from courts can be executed on the blockchain if the judicial system of a particular jurisdiction allows for a seamless digital interface with the petitioner's computers. In case of an automated interface with the judicial system, the execution of court orders can also happen immediately provided the jurisdiction’s administrative machinery is using blockchain.
- Taking of Evidence & Preparation of Award
The efficiency of blockchain can be seen in evidence taking and award preparation. Submission of witness statements, documents, exhibits, or any other evidence can be done by the parties online and they shall be automatically delivered to all stakeholders. Witness conferencing, cross-examination, and taking of oral evidence can be easily done using video conferencing suites, or even if hearings are done physically, they can still be transferred on blockchain and stacked for procedural integrity. Statements of expert witnesses, oral submission by experts, and expert communications can be recorded on blockchain.
6.Security of Data
Blockchain is a secure way of storing information because each block is replicated and authenticated by all stakeholders. The provision to alter or delete any data does not exist until authenticated by all stakeholders. Also due to the absence of intervention of a third party, there is no network administrator or supervisor making the possibility of data breach negligible.
In conclusion, the pandemic situation has provided the right opportunity for stakeholders to adopt blockchain-based arbitration. It’s the best time now. Many companies are applying blockchain technology for dispute resolution. As the businesses switch to blockchain, dispute resolution must follow the lead. Resolution of disputes is a fundamental right and it should progress with changing times.