On Campus: Australian National University Democratizing Legal Disputes with Blockchain

This article was first published on Insights – Ripple

Scott Chamberlain, Entrepreneurial Fellow at Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, grows very animated when talking about the potential of blockchain and law. 

“Imagine an eBay-like platform that can resolve consumer law disputes without engaging the court system,” he marvels.

Chamberlain’s research has long focused on innovations in and the impact of tech on the law, with blockchain an increasing area of study. At ANU, he runs a project called Lex Automagica, a tech stack automating legal processes that he envisions will allow society to run like clockwork. 

He believes this is possible because—at its most basic—the law is simple. In the event of a dispute, the law must confirm the identities of the people and things involved, along with the relationship and rules of interaction between them, to arrive at a resolution. 

Blockchain can already perform these confirmations and automations through identity, tokenization, smart contracts, and dispute resolutions projects. Making it a short leap to apply these new technologies to the law.  

If done properly, Chamberlain’s hope is that the project will create a capacity to solve an enormous number of social disputes without having to engage the middlemen and gatekeepers that he says often leverage their positions of power and wealth. Of course, he’s quick to point out that his vision for a decentralized, democratized practice of law would not replace the legal profession. 

“This is not about getting rid of lawyers or eliminating jobs,” said Chamberlain. “There will always be cases and situations that demand a higher level of expertise.” 

Instead, he sees blockchain and smart contracts as providing an unprecedented opening to resolve more routine disputes and bring resolution to those who might normally be unable to afford legal services. The key is to differentiate the types ...

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