The old jokes are often the best ones. “What do you call 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” “A good start.”
One blockchain technology startup has its sights on sinking at least one category of legal advice: that which handles the small claims court.
Jury.online — which has announced presale of its Jury.online tokens (JOT) today — is using the blockchain to make it easier to settle smaller claims, because it intends to eradicate the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars spent on the lawyers needed to win or defend these cases.
This isn’t, of course, the first time that emerging technologies have been able to step in and succeed at replacing lawyers. The DoNotPay bot has already squashed hundreds of thousands of parking tickets. That solution uses a chatbot as its basis, whereas Jury.online is using blockchain technology to provide complete transparency throughout the process and resolve issues using smart contracts.
What is it about blockchain technology that makes it suitable for small claims?
“It’s a competing marketplace,” Alexander Shevtsov, founder and main developer at Jury.online, told me. “You can hire cheap labor to decide simple cases that require no expertise. Most cases can be handled with common sense rather than a deep understanding of law.”
An example Shevtsov quotes is the case of a business that paid for translation service, only to have the freelancer not complete the job.
So how does it work?
Users are connected with randomly selected jurors who make legal decisions and deliver judgment regarding any kind of dispute.
Deals are then executed via smart contracts and jurors are paid via the Jury.online currency, the JOT.
Users make deals via a transparent and secure decentralized platform. Both parties in a deal define the contract and deposit their funds. The funds remain in the contract until a legal dispute arises.
So is this really a solution that can replace lawyers?
“It will not replace lawyers for complicated cases, but it is a much cheaper alternative for independent dispute resolution,” Shevtsov said. “Lawyers are charging hundreds of dollars an hour, whereas Jury.online can handle a similar case for $100-200. That means disputes centered around a $1,000 deal become possible.”
That’s important, because the smallest of the small claims often go unchallenged. The costs of litigation are simply too high for the affected party to take the case forward.
Is Jury.online only targeted at small claims, or does it have applications in larger cases?
“Bigger claims may also be handled if they require expertise in certain pools,” Shevtsov said. “For example, in remote software development, an expert jury pool may be trusted to draw an independent decision. It may be a much cheaper alternative to resolution to international courts.”
The token associated with this blockchain solution, JOT, is expected to be listed on all the main cryptocurrency exchanges. All transactions in Jury.online will be paid using JOTs, such as opening a new dispute or paying the jury.
This is yet another interesting use of blockchain technology. Does Shevtsov think there is any limit to what this emerging field can be applied to?
“Certainly there is a limit to the problems that blockchain technology can solve,” Shevtsov said. “But blockchain seems to have applications in many industries, markets, and departments — especially in government services. Ethereum created smart contracts that can solidify financial deals. Jury online makes it possible to solidify real world deals.”
Despite the potential of Jury.online, Shevtsov is realistic about the future.
“Jury.online, of course, can’t solve all the problems, and cannot guarantee fair trial in 100 percent of cases,” Shevtsov said. “But the protocol and jury service will give you a cheaper and more independent dispute resolution.”
Presale of the JOT token starts today, with details available at the Jury.online website.