A Brief Introduction to Blockchain Dispute Resolution
21 Pages Posted: 7 May 2022
Date Written: March 13, 2020
Blockchain is the technology behind infamous Bitcoin and provides a structure for dispute resolution with the help of smart contracts. The technology aims to establish an anonymous and decentralized mechanism without any state oversight or intermediary for transactions. Blockchain works on a decentralized network creating an immutable record of transactions. A smart contract is a self-executing software program that automatically performs a function. Once the conditions are met, the contract enforces itself without any additional step. The blockchain dispute resolution (BDR) platforms offer services for disputes arising out of blockchain and smart contract transactions or for traditional disputes that are not related to blockchain transactions. Each of the platforms provides untraditional mechanisms for adjudication that are also different from each other, creating an unorganized and unregulated environment. The platforms do not comply with the accustomed principles of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanisms raising the question of validity and legitimacy of the platforms and the need for regulation.
The article aims to act as a brief introduction to some of these platforms and identifies major issues with BDR when compared to the established dispute resolution procedures. It briefly explains the blockchain and smart contracts with some examples on their alternative applications and then introduces BDR platforms. The article discusses concerns about BDR in light of ADR and ODR principles. It points out main issues following up the comparison of different mechanisms and tries to provide a perspective to find answers with discussion of possible solutions. Finally, the article suggests that the best way forward is to utilize BDR for supplementing ODR and ADR. If regulation is found absolutely necessary, then soft law instruments should be the first step in this respect.
Keywords: Blockchain, smart contracts, dispute resolution, ADR, ODR
JEL Classification: K00, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation