Smart Dubai, DIFC Courts to launch world’s first Court of the Blockchain

Research will eventually focus on how to handle disputes from public and private blockchains and ‘smart’ contracts

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts and Smart Dubai have teamed up to create the world’s first ‘Court of the Blockchain’ to explore how to aid verification of court judgements for cross-border enforcement, it was announced on Monday.

According to DIFC Courts and Smart Dubai, the partnership is a key first step towards creating a blockchain-powered judiciary which, in turn, will streamline the judicial process, remove document duplications and drive improved efficiencies across the legal ecosystem.

In the future, research will focus on how to handle disputes arising from private and public blockchains, with regulation and contractual terms encoded within ‘smart’ contracts. At the moment, blockchain-based smart contract transactions are irrevocable, with no technical means to unwind a transaction.

In a statement, the joint DIFC Courts-Smart Dubai task force said that the will work to model smart contracts across the blockchain that incorporate logic and allow for various forms of exceptions and conditions for seamless and efficient dispute resolution.

“The taskforce is in line with our guiding principle to deliver courts as a service, powered by technology and extended through cooperation agreements and alliances,” said Amna Al Owais, chief executive and registrar of DIFC Courts.

“By harnessing blockchain technology, Dubai will be firmly positioned at the forefront of legaltech and judicial innovation, setting the standards or countries and judiciaries to follow.”

Dr. Aisha bint Butti Bin Bishr, the director general of the Smart Dubai Office (SDO), said that the ‘Court of the Blockchain’ project forms part of Dubai’s larger goal of digitising government services of all kinds.

“The emirate has become a global trailblazer in embracing advanced technologies and steeling them towards the safety, comfort and happiness of our city’s residents and visitors,” she said.

“One of the most notable of these innovations is Blockchain, where the Dubai Blockchain Strategy seeks to run 100% of applicable government transactions on Blockchain by 2020.”

Dr. Aisha added that “an invention of this calibre and potential requires an equally disruptive set of rules and an empowered institution to uphold them. This is where our partnership with DIFC Courts comes in.”

In 2017, DIFC Courts and the Dubai Future Foundation launched the Courts of the Future Forum, designed to formulate guidelines for a commercial court that can operate anywhere, worldwide.

This year, the Forum evolved its mandate to extend this initiative to other global commercial courts, and to engage specialist technology sector and private sector participation, creating vertical working groups to research areas such as blockchain.

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