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How Blockchain Is Changing the Face of Court Evidence

Since the year 2018, blockchain technology has been continuously proving (and proofing) its worth by tackling real law cases and presenting sound evidence. These distinct article snippets will show you how blockchain managed to saved the day in copyright disputes, began serving as a fully fledged digital platform for evidence and much more.
June 2018 The 1st time in China blockchain timestamped proof is recognized by the juristic authority through lawsuit result
Hangzhou Internet Court accepted blockchain proof as means of evidence in a copyright dispute. In order to prove its claim, the plaintiff Huatai Yimei presented screenshots of the infringing website’s article. The article’s authenticity was demonstrated through a third-party evidence preservation platform called Baoquan.com that uses blockchain technology.

The Hangzhou Internet Court summarizes that electronic data saved and secured using technologies like blockchain should be analyzed and determined on a case by case basis with an attitude of being open and neutral. The data should not be dismissed, or the standard of determination thereof should not be raised, only because they are novel and complex. The effectiveness of blockchain technology evidence should be determined in a comprehensive manner, wherein the emphasis should be on examination of the source of electronic data and content integrity thereof, security of the technical means, reliability of the methods, legitimacy of formation, and degree of association with other evidence. The court concludes that blockchain technology satisfies relevant standards to preserve and secure electronic data and ensures the integrity of the same.

In this case, to confirm that the electronic data has indeed been uploaded to the blockchain, this court performed examination in two aspects: whether the electronic data has truly been uploaded and whether the uploaded electronic data is the electronic data at issue.

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July 2018 World's first blockchain court in Dubai planned
Court judgements could be verified with blockchain encryption under a plan announced by a government-backed consortium in Dubai. The already-paperless Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts said today that it partnered with the 'Smart Dubai’ initiative to set up what it calls the world’s first 'Court of the Blockchain’.

Blockchain is the secure encryption technology behind digital currency systems. It is also being investigated in fields ranging from property registration to self-executing ‘smart’ contracts because of its ability to create a tamper-proof chain of transactions. Dubai has already announced an ambition to conduct many government processes, such as visa applications and licence renewals, with blockchain technology by 2020.

The initial aim of the alliance announced today is to explore how blockchain aid verification of court judgements for cross-border enforcement. However a statement said that the partnership is the first step in creating a ’blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits’. These include streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem, the statement said. Future research will combine expertise and resources to investigate handling disputes arising out of private and public blockchains, with regulation and contractual terms encoded within the smart contract.

Amna Al Owais, chief executive and registrar, DIFC Courts, said: 'This taskforce is in line with our guiding principle to deliver courts as a service, powered by technology and extended through cooperation agreements and alliances. By harnessing blockchain technology, Dubai will be firmly positioned at the forefront of legaltech and judicial innovation, setting the standards for countries and judiciaries to follow.’

Blockchain encryption could be used to verify court judgments under a plan announced by a government-backed consortium in Dubai. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, which has already gone paperless, has announced it is partnering with the 'smart Dubai’ initiative to set up what it calls the world’s first 'court of the blockchain’.

Cross-border enforcement

Blockchain’s secure encryption technology, used in digital currency, is already being investigated in legal fields ranging from property registration to self-executing ‘smart’ contracts, due to a capability to create a tamper-proof chain of transactions. Dubai has already announced an ambition to conduct many government processes, such as visa applications and licence renewals, with blockchain technology by 2020. The initial aim of the new alliance is to explore how blockchain can aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement. A statement said the partnership is the first step in creating a ’blockchain-powered future for the judiciary which will have far-reaching benefits’. These include streamlining the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem.

Future research

The alliance added that future research will combine expertise and resources to investigate handling disputes arising out of private and public blockchains, with regulation and contractual terms encoded within the smart contract. Amna Al Owais, chief executive and registrar, DIFC Courts, said: 'This taskforce is in line with our guiding principle to deliver courts as a service, powered by technology and extended through cooperation agreements and alliances. By harnessing blockchain technology, Dubai will be firmly positioned at the forefront of legaltech and judicial innovation, setting the standards for countries and judiciaries to follow.’

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September, 2018 Chinese court launches its blockchain evidence platform
Hangzhou Court of Internet applied blockchain in their online law suit handling system, the plaintiff is able to submit electronic evidences online under the witness and verification of the nodes including the notary offices, judicial appraisal centers, CA/RA (certification authorities/registration authorities), courts, Ant Financial Services Group (Alipay's credit and finance service system).

It also allows a user to log onto the Judicial platform and then use the internet to browse and find evidence. That might be to find copyright infringers or to go to an e-commerce site and log the details about a purchase. Users can download the proof, and a hash of it is stored on the blockchain.

According to Wang Jiangqiao, executive VP of the court, evidence must go through four stages: generation, storage, transmission and submission, and authentication. Blockchain solves the data generation issues by establishing time, place, person, what happened before and after. Essentially a blockchain node acts as a witness.

The evidence is tied to a real person’s identity which is authenticated. The platform offers typical blockchain benefits: encryption, the ability to electronically sign evidence and cost savings.

The first organisations to make use of the system are Ant Financial, Xinhua News Agency, Hangzhou Daily Newspaper Group, and Youku.

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October 2018 UAE Government-Supported Blockchain Platform By Smart Dubai And IBM Launches
Smart Dubai and IBM Blockchain have announced the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Platform, which was created by the partnership between the two tech companies with the backing of the United Arab Emirates’ government.

The platform is going to be the first government-endorsed blockchain that will work as a platform-as-a-service in the country and it will be delivered by IBM Cloud while built locally in the country. This new platform will be focused on serving as the main stepping stone for organizations in the United Arab Emirates and will become global soon.

Another use for this new technology is to digitize applicable government processed and citizen services. Smart Dubai will use its collaboration with IBM to run all the transactions and put Dubai on the map when blockchain tech is the subject.

At the moment, Dubai has been leading the efforts to transform the blockchain technology into a reality in the country and to create a paperless government by 2021. The plan, which is certainly very audacious, is backed by IBM and Smart Dubai.

With the help of this new platform, the government will integrate digitized information about the country and help the citizens on their daily lives. It will also be very useful for conducting transactions locally and to lower the operational costs of the whole process. This platform will use the Information Security Regulation (ISR) standards created by the Dubai government.

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December 2018 Beijing Internet Court Launches a Judicial Blockchain System with Baidu
The Beijing internet court has recently announced a judicial blockchain system called the Scale Chain, or “ Tianping Chain” in Chinese, to store digital evidence

“Tianping Chain” is China’s leading blockchain-based platform for depositing electronic evidence which is jointly built by the Beijing Internet Court, China Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (CICS-CERT), a research academy under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the internet conglomerate Baidu and a leading blockchain start-up, TrustDo.

Since it was launched 3 months ago, “Tianping Chain” has been used in multiple scenarios, such as the protection of copyright, supply chain finance, e-contracts, third-party data service platforms, banking, insurance and internet finance.

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July 2019 Reflections on the legal recognition of blockchain timestamping by the Italian lawmaker
It’s official: Italian positive law now includes a measure enshrining blockchain timestamping. The combination of encryption methods and the peer-to-peer network, components of blockchain protocols, provide a certain level of reliability to the data recorded therein. Cost, speed, unlimited storage duration, "universal evidence“ that could be allowed by all courts, immutability of the registers, are all advantages attributed to this evidence kept in the blockchain.

Blockchain protocols include timestamping functions that make it possible to set the date and time of recorded data. In this respect,blockchain timestamping introduces temporal elements on two levels:

in terms of the time and date of entry of the transaction in the blockchain; and in terms of the time and date of validation of the transaction block. Legal recognition of this blockchain timestamping began with law no. 12/19 dated January 11, 2019 relative to the support and simplification of enterprises and public administration, which took effect in Italy on February 13, 2019. It seeks to enshrine the legal effects of “blockchain electronic timestamping” as evidence, but it remains quiet on a certain number of technical and legal points.

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July 2018 CaseLines, who supplies the software to manage legal documents for 78 courts in England and Wales, including the UK Supreme Court, is now patenting a blockchain solution to ensure evidence is tamper free
CaseLines expects to develop its patent within the next four to five months. From there, it hopes to roll out the blockchain-updated platform into U.K. jurisdictions where courts are already using some form of cloud-based evidence management systems, including CaseLines’ product.

In 2015 CaseLines defeated Goliath to win the contract from Ministry of Justice to digitise the law courts of England and Wales. CaseLines is used in the Supreme Court, Civil and Public Law cases and in the Crown Court Digital Case System (“CCDCS”) across England & Wales and the dispute resolution authority for the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

Netmaster Solutions developer of CaseLines, is the leading global provider of software as a service (SaaS) for the electronic preparation, collaboration and presentation of evidence/legal bundles, documentary and video evidence.

CaseLines enables law firms and corporate legal departments and courts to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve productivity. Eliminating the direct and indirect costs of paper and PDFs, CaseLines allows courtroom presentation of the bundles without the added cost of a courtroom operator.

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August 2018 UK Courts Start Pilot Blockchain Evidence System
The initiative was announced in a blogpost by the Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) portal by Balaji Anbil, the head of digital architecture and cybersecurity at the UK's Ministry of Justice. The pilot project aims to assess whether the distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be utilized to simplify and streamline the present-day court processes with focus on securely handling digital evidence. The working group constituted to lead the project has already conducted the inaugural meeting and is actively working with industry experts. HMCTS will trial the technology for “inter-agency evidence sharing” later this year.

Dr Sadek Ferdous, Technology Policy Fellow and Research Associate at London’s Imperial College, provided HMCTS with technical expertise at the joint meeting.

The working group is focusing on enterprise blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth. This is significant because a blockchain for judicial use will only have trusted participants. Public blockchains have unknown participants, hence for transparency, they make information transparent to all. Enterprise blockchains are more suitable in this use case because they have an access control mechanism.

Describing the DLT-based initiative as a part of the larger court reforms program, Anbil states that the project envisages “the application of novel solutions to traditional challenges including evidence sharing, identity management and ensuring citizens have maximum control over their own information. Our service designs are focused on value, simplicity and use of the best modern technology approaches. This brings numerous benefits including cost effective and timely delivery and future proof solutions.”

Citing the practical issues and challenges faced in managing evidence, the working group is looking for a system that is capable of maintaining the records of all system activities that capture how various forms of digital evidences get created, accessed or modified, by which entity or participant and from which location. The records need to be maintained in a chronological order in a way that can easily enable the reconstruction and verification of the sequence of events and actions, which can lead to and certify the current state of the digital evidence. A suitable DLT technology with its intrinsic feature of maintaining a well defined audit trail fits the bill. It can be the crucial platform that can guarantee the integrity of evidence in its secure handling, storage and retrieval.

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September, 2018 Beijing’s Court First Accepts Blockchain Records as Evidence
The Court of Beijing Dongcheng District announced the first instance judgement of a case involving infringement of right to network dissemination of information. According to China Intellectual Property News, this case was filed by ChineseAll Digital Publishing Group Co., Ltd. (ChineseAll) against Beijing Jingdong San Bai Lu degrees e-commerce Co., Ltd.(Jingdong E-commerce). Jingdong E-commerce is a subsidiary of China’s e-commerce giant JD.com, Inc.

This is the first ruling by Court of Beijing Dongcheng District that made use of blockchain technology and cloud forensics for a copyright infringement case. This is also Beijing’s first sentence that accepts evidence deposition using blockchain technology.

During the proceedings, ChineseAll collected evidence of Jingdong E-commerce’s infringement through the third party platform of evidence deposition. They proved the integrity and tamper-resistance of digital evidence deposited on the blockchain. The court clarified how to evaluate the legal evidence effect of digital data on blockchain.

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November 2018 Azerbaijan Wants to Adopt Blockchain on Ministry of Justice Databases
Azerbaijan government announced the country will start using blockchain on the information systems and registries of the Ministry of Justice, on notaries, courts, penitentiaries, NGOs and registries, stating that the notarization of electronic documents is a key element in the government’s process of disruption.

Regarding the potential application of blockchain in the judicial system, the AMF Chairman said the work in the direction of “electronic courts” is very weak given that only a few judicial instances have been introduced to the “e-government” yet. Notarial institutions, however, have shown “a certain progress” such as the online integration of “the extracts from the register related to real estate.”

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December 2018 The Provincial Court of Henan has announced to launch a blockchain based digital evidence platform to settle the disputes including copyright infringement and contract on the internet.
Users can verify, store, and collect the digital evidence through the platform. The plaintiff and defendant can submit their digital evidence directly to the platform for verification. The platform also utilizes blockchain hash check, node check, and blockchain traceability for event sourcing. Nodes and witnesses include courts in Henan Province, China Institute of Judicial Big Data, National Timing Center of Academy of Sciences, Law Branch of China Information Assiation, National Information Center, National Electronic Contract Filing Platform.

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