BLOCKCHAIN AND LAW
How Blockchain and Law Can Work Together
- Proof of Service: Blockchain allows us to put a digital tag onto objects and documents using which we can track movements either physically or online. Recently, ServeManager, a process server company, has partnered with a blockchain company called IntegraLedger to test a proof of concept using the IntegraLedger blockchain. They have log attempts to deliver service documents and ultimately act as verifiable proof that service papers were delivered.
- Smart Documents: IntegraLedger also has smart document functionality which allows the parties to contract to embed transactions into the document itself. The blockchain then securely stores all those transactions. For example, a rental contract could have each rental payment digitally linked to the contract itself. So if a new company takes over the lease, they can upload the smart document to their system, and all the transaction history comes along with it.
- Chain of Custody: Blockchain can trace the digital movements of documents and store them permanently, preventing deletion and providing a reliable trail of any tampering. Digital tags on physical assets can also enable GPS tracking if someone moves or steals evidence. Such movements stored on the blockchain provides incontrovertible evidence in court.
- Intellectual Property: In corporate acquisitions, there are lengthy due diligence requirements around IP ownership. With a blockchain based record that shows the registration and licensing of all IP rights, due diligence exercises become smoother than they are today. Blockchain can further help in managing licensing rights.
- Notarization: A blockchain could perform the same role as a notary. Biometric data would ensure a more robust authentication of a presence than the use of a private key alone, as private keys can get stolen. BlockNotary and Stampd are two examples project using blockchain to authenticate and witness transactions and data. [Coin Central]
Chinese Supreme Court Will Allow for Blockchain-Authenticated Evidence
- The Supreme Court of China has ruled that evidence authenticated using blockchain technology will now be binding for legal disputes. According to the announcement from the Chinese Supreme Court,
Internet courts shall recognize digital data that are submitted as evidence if relevant parties collected and stored these data via blockchain with digital signatures, reliable timestamps and hash value verification or via a digital deposition platform, and can prove the authenticity of such technology used.
- While no other country has yet followed in China’s path, the U.K. Law Commission did announce earlier in the summer of 2018 that it would review legal frameworks involving smart contracts so that it doesn’t lag behind as blockchain legal applications develop. [Investopedia]
NEW LEGALTECH PRODUCTS
Rocket Lawyer Partners With ConsenSys and OpenLaw
- Digital legal services company, Rocket Lawyer, partnered with ConsenSys and OpenLaw to accelerate the distribution of a Rocket Wallet. This will assist Rocket Lawyer with trusted, blockchain-enabled contract execution.
- With ConsenSys, Rocket Lawyer can create smarter transactions that are managed by a network, rather than a central authority. Rocket Lawyer hopes to limit the sharing of consumers information and enhance consumer privacy and security. Also, the three companies will collaborate on bringing additional Ethereum blockchain innovations such as smart contracts, automated dispute resolution, and identity management applications to the legal services market. Charley Moore, Rocket Lawyer Founder and CEO says,
Together, we will work to increase access to justice by closing the gap between contract execution and trusted, secure performance of agreed-upon obligations. The collaboration with these companies will enable the creation and development of legally binding smart contracts. We want to ensure the reduction of conflicts and frictions in contract agreements. We are working to create blockchain based enforceable agreements which are legally binding. This move will not only be a big achievement to use but also a huge development in Ethereum as a whole.
LEGALTECH VC, INCUBATORS & EVENTS
Legal Tech Startup Atrium Raises $65 Million from Airbnb and Skype Early Investors
- Atrium, a one-year-old startup that provides tech-led legal services to startups and scaleups, has raised $65 million. The funding round, which follows a $10.5 million fundraising last year, was led by Andreessen Horowitz with General Catalyst, YC Continuity Fund, and Sound Ventures as co-investors.
- Andreessen partners Andrew Chen, Michael Seibel and Marc Andreessen will be joining the board. This summer, Atrium also acquired the deep learning voice transcription startup Tetra. The company says that it is empowering top legal professionals by building machine learning software to understand legal documents and automate repeatable processes, allowing them to spend more time advising and solving problems for clients. [Legal IT Insider]*
Kira Systems Receives $50 Million Series A Investment from Insight Venture Partners
- Kira Systems, an AI-driven contract analytics software vendor, announced a $50 million investment from Insight Venture Partners, a leading venture capital and private equity firm based in New York City. Kira leverages proprietary machine learning technology to automatically identify and extract relevant information from contracts and other related documents.
- Peter Sobiloff, Managing Director and Jonathan Rosenbaum, the Senior Associate at Insight will join the board. Commenting on the investment, Jonathan mentioned:
Kira Systems’ performance as a bootstrapped business has been impressive, and we’re eager to partner with them to more aggressively pursue growth. We don’t see many pure-play AI businesses with their traction, and this success has come from the fact that Kira is fundamentally changing how contracts are reviewed. This represents an opportunity to make a meaningful impact across their core market segments. [Kira Systems]
Sheffield, England Looks to Put Itself as a Lawtech Hub
- The LegalTech North conference on 22 November in Sheffield, England will bring together tech start-ups and lawyers across the north of England and leverage lower overheads to put the city on the map as a lawtech hub. Speakers will hail from incubators and law firms including DWF Ventures and DLA Piper.
- Several lawtech start-ups appear to be basing themselves outside of the southern half of the country, attracted by lower costs which can eventually be passed on to law firm customers. Matthew Pennington, the event organizer said:
The ability to set up and recruit talent and have lower set-up costs, savings that could be passed on to the end-user. The potential law firm clients did not care where the start-up was based, they care about what the proposition is that you are bringing to the market and whether you can help them meet their clients’ needs. The funding for innovative legal businesses may be available, from local grant-giving bodies as well as from interested law firms and investors. [Legal Futures]