A new start-up company, appropriately named jury.online, is planning to crowdsource juries for the arbitration of contract disputes.
The company, which is based in Estonia, describes itself as “The Future of Dispute Resolution,” although an article on Artificial Lawyer points out that its approach to jury selection raises a number of legal questions, among them: “Is a ruling by a group of anonymous jurors assembled online to rule on the disputed outcome of a smart contract legally compliant and legally binding?”
In a video “explainer,” jury.online states that it is a “blockchain-based platform for carrying out all-purpose deals, executed via smart contract.” Using the platform, entities can enter into a smart contract (e.g., to book a hotel room with an online travel agency), and place the agreed-upon remuneration for the service or product in an escrow account, from which it will be released when the contract is satisfactorily completed. If there is a dispute, jury.online convenes a group of volunteers selected at random on a blockchain system to arbitrate the disagreement and come to a decision.
However – again as Artificial Lawyer points out – the issue at hand is really not the viability of this particular venture (see jury.online’s “Terms and Conditions” for a long list of warnings, caveats, and disclaimers) but rather the avalanche of new platforms and apps that are intended to replace or complement work that has traditionally done by lawyers – without any input from the legal community. For the legal industry, jury.online is simply one more visible peak of an iceberg that is growing underwater by the day.
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