Startups often are at the forefront of creating unique solutions with the ability to have a tremendous impact on various industries. The Miami Blockchain Group, a legal technology startup, has created a novel blockchain application specifically for the international dispute resolution community. The Smart Arbitration & Mediation Blockchain Application, SAMBA, debuted at the 2018 Global Legal Institute for Peace Conference at the University of São Paulo on March 14.

Recent news about blockchain has focused primarily on cryptocurrencies and crypto tokens, such as financial regulator statements regarding whether initial coin offerings could constitute securities. Here we see a use for the technology in a completely different industry, and a traditionally conservative one with respect to technology. As we have described in our paper Blockchain – Distributed ledger technology and designing the future, a blockchain, also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), is a digital record, or ledger, of transactions. Blockchain is unlike a traditional ledger however and is stored collectively by all the participants on its network. Each transaction is stored with others in a unit of data called a block and those blocks securely link to one another, forming a “chain” of records going all the way back to the very beginning of the ledger.

SAMBA intends to utilize a blockchain to eliminate the need for couriers, hard copies and mailing. The application gives claimants the ability to use a blockchain portal, held by an arbitral institution, to file requests for arbitration. Documents can be drafted within the portal, finalized, and submitted directly to the tribunal. Additionally, claimants will have the option to conduct electronic discovery by way of a drop box, allowing for hearings to become virtual. Claimants will also be able to view their final award on portal.

SAMBA is likely to positively impact the international dispute resolution process. The legal industry certainly will be watching for the success of this initiative.  We will be eagerly watching for additional blockchain backed applications introduced in other areas of the legal industry that will hopefully drive efficiency, transparency and trust amongst legal professionals.