Introducing the Juris Protocol: Human-Powered Dispute Resolution for Blockchain Smart Contracts.
For all the promise that self-executing smart contracts hold, mistakes, misunderstandings, disputes, and hacks will still happen. Juris is building a human-powered, blockchain-native, open source dispute resolution protocol because we believe that smart contract technology will never reach large scale adoption without a fair dispute resolution system, built to mesh with real world legal structures.
New contracts, old problems.
In the wake of costly cases like the DAO or Parity Wallet hacks, in which hundreds of millions of dollars were lost or stolen, our team began work on the Juris Protocol. Smart contracts have the potential to facilitate secure transactions and enforceable agreements with remarkable efficiency. Moreover, these tools can be made available globally and among a class of citizen to which such contractual means of enforcement have never previously been available. But, smart contracts will never truly take hold if they do not present themselves to the average person backed by an equally evolved and fair system of dispute resolution and judgement.
In recent decades we have witnessed the rapid digitization, decentralization, and distribution of myriad services and tools which used to exist solely in the “real world.” These technologies have fundamentally altered the way humans communicate. With this transition we have seen the rise of new problems, new solutions… and new problems again. Among those solutions we find blockchain technology, which gives us a simple but fundamentally different way of recording transactions between parties. And blockchain technology has given rise to the self-executing, “smart” contract: a simple but fundamentally revolutionary way to make and execute agreements about those transactions.
For all the promise this solution presents, it does not mean that these smart contracts are free of the complexity and nuance which has given rise to contract law and modern judicial systems. As all lawyers know well, there is no perfect contract, smart or otherwise. Like traditional contracts before them, smart contracts and their self-executed transactions will result in disputes, mistakes, chargeback requests, and hacks.
Including the Juris Protocol code will make any smart contract legally enforceable before disputes, errors, or hacks happen. By using the Juris Contract Development Kit, any smart contract user will have access to a subset of best practice boilerplate legal protections in the event of a dispute. With Juris Token (JRS) attached, the smart contract is backed by the ability to freeze contract operations and use Juris Protocol tools to resolve the disputed transactions.
When a dispute is triggered, users will be directed to the Juris SELF mediation tools, which provide disputing parties with a forum to come to mutual resolution on their own. If an agreement is reached, they can use Juris tools to execute a modified smart contract.
If SELF mediation is ineffective, users can escalate to the Juris SNAP mediation system to crowdsource an opinion from our decentralized force of qualified Jurists. If settlement negotiations are still stalled, users can escalate to a binding Juris PANEL which provides a decentralized, United Nations compliant arbitration tribunal judicially enforceable in 157 countries, (if preferred, escalation will also be possible to the external dispute resolution company of the smart contract user’s choice.)
If the contract runs without dispute, or a dispute is resolved via SELF mediation, all JRS is returned. If SNAP mediation or PANEL arbitration is needed, attached JRS is earned by Jurists for their time and judgement.
For blockchain-based technologies and smart contracts to work, we must acknowledge this fact of any tool working in service of human cooperation: humans will disagree and humans will misunderstand, often through no fault of their own. Disputes will happen. Even if we _could_ perfect smart contract automation, humans need to feel like their grievances have been heard in order to trust a system of resolution.
It is our intent at Juris not to disrupt the legal system, but to build a bridge: a decentralized mediation and arbitration layer as accessible as the Internet. Built with empathy and usability, Juris will conform to modern alternative dispute resolution science and law. It will be powered by a force of qualified legal professionals, including certified mediators and arbitrators, earning JRS Token for their services, provided from anywhere in the world.
The Juris Protocol will be able to incorporate with _any_ blockchain smart contract via open source plug-in, and _any_ traditional contract via standard arbitration clause.
Building a bridge.
In the realm of “Silicon Valley,” and tech innovation, there is a popular notion of “disruption” typified by the idea of tearing down and replacing previous institutions. This ethos has been instrumental to the growth and development of blockchain based technologies.
But, there are some systems of such great importance to society that every successive “disruption” has merely refined their application. In law and governance, destruction of the old is deliberately difficult. Passing a law is difficult and slow because we want — we _need —_ to get it right. We presume innocence until proof of guilt because keeping innocent people out of prison is fundamentally important. Human rights are held sacred, vigorously debated, and defended because they are critical to a citizenry’s contract with their government, and with one another. And above all, human beings are wired to expect and pursue the “fairness” of transactions.
From monarchies, to oligarchies, to the republic and democracy. Through centuries of decentralization in systems of government. From English common law to modern systems of judicial resolution and arbitration, the idea articulated in the Magna Carta that “lawful judgement” by other humans is the only way to fairly and peacefully resolve a dispute is not a notion to be “disrupted,” but a notion to be refined and incorporated anew in any system of governance which proposes to facilitate human cooperation.
It is with these convictions, and belief in smart contracts as the future of legally binding agreement, that our team — comprised of lawyers, engineers, economists and scientists — began work on the Juris Protocol: an open source, human-powered, blockchain-native, dispute arbitration and mediation system.
Today I am proud to announce the public launch of our whitepaper, available through our website: (http://jurisproject.io).
Take a look. Get involved. Help us build a judicial system for the blockchain.
Adam J. Kerpelman, Founder & CEO, Juris