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Is the Blockchain Too Expensive?

For at least a year now, the magic word in technology circles has been “blockchain” – the accretive cryptographic system behind Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. A distributed ledger A blockchain serves as a distributed ledger, a record of transactions or other information that is secure from alteration and that operates without any central authority. Its security derives from the digital signatures required to affect the...
Posted in: Legal Technology

Electronic Wills Down Under and Closer to Home

This column canvasses some recent developments in the law affecting electronic wills and reviews the Canadian position. The forms an electronic will might take have been tested down under in recent years. Consider if the law anywhere in Canada would have, or should have, produced similar results. Australia In Yu, Re [2013] QSC 322, the High Court of Queensland gave probate to a will contained in the iPad of the deceased Mr. Yu, who had killed...
Posted in: Legal Technology

What Lawyers Need to Know About Blockchain

As I am writing this, one bitcoin is traded at about USD$17,600. In 2013, bitcoin traded at about USD$100. I thought it was a scam at the time and did not buy any. Since then I’ve changed my mind and started thinking, writing, and building about and around bitcoin and other blockchain technologies. It helped that I am both a computer programmer and a lawyer and that I had economics training. So if you are a lawyer and you missed the bitcoin...
Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Reliable Electronic Transferable Records

You may recall that the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has recently adopted a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records. An overview report made at the time is here. The text of the Model Law, along with a Guide to its Enactment, are here. Some previous attention to this project has been paid on Slaw here (2011), here (2012) and here (2016). Transferable records Transferable records are those that carry...
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Mysterious Magic of Routines

This article is by Nora Rock, corporate writer and policy analyst at LAWPRO. As a child, did you step carefully over every sidewalk crack? Tap each post of the hockey net before settling into the crease? Wear your lucky socks to every law school exam? Even those of us who scorn superstition rely on routines and rituals for our own protection: we swallow a daily multivitamin, fasten our seatbelts, return our passport to the drawer after a trip....
Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management

The Blockbuster That Is Blockchain: What It Means to the Practice of Law

Several years ago, a Canadian attorney and good friend of ours, invested $10,000 in bitcoin. Clearly, he is a lot smarter than us. We can’t even imagine the extent of his profit – several days before we started to write this article, bitcoin hit an all-time high of $4,991.66 on September 2, 2017. It is down slightly as we write, but our friend certainly hit a jackpot. We become aware of bitcoin wallets a few years ago, as husbands (mostly)...
Posted in: Legal Technology

The Chronic Pain of Using Brain Imaging in Legal Proceedings

Aside from a robust knowledge in anatomy and physiology or radiation physics, there’s not much I can use my background in nuclear medicine technology in the practice of law. Which is why in 2009 I noted here the growing and emerging use of diagnostic imaging in sentencing and trials. Since that time there has been quite a bit of developments in diagnostic imaging and its use in medico-legal work. One of the newest developments is its use...
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Is a Docusign E-Signature an Original for the Purpose of a Court Rule?

If a court or regulator allows e-filing but requires the filer to retain an original signed document, can that original itself be electronic? A bankruptcy court in California recently issued sanctions against an attorney who filed electronic documents without retaining an “original” of the documents as required by the Rules – because the documents held by the attorney were signed using Docusign, and they did not qualify as...
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

“Verifiable” E-Signatures

Mike Laurie Great blog. The verifiability says it all and well illustrated. An interesting contrast is the EU regulation, EIdAS which has multiple levels of verifiability for qualified e-signatures based on added security like time stamps that need to be renewed annually. These exist because no single level of verifiability is perfect. There is always something that can go wrong with the signatures verifiability. Even the most secure signature...
Posted in: Legal Technology

Ending the Signature Fetish?

A man was injured driving a go-kart at a track in Saskatchewan. He sued the owners of the track. The owners moved to dismiss the action because the plaintiff had waived their liability on an electronic form. The plaintiff argued that it was not clear that he had signed the waiver. Held: for the owners. Quilichini v Wilson’s Greenhouse, 2017 SKQB 10 (CanLII) The court considered SK’s Electronic Documents and Information Act, which...
Posted in: Case Comment, ulc_ecomm_list

Recognizing That Handwritten Signatures Are a Weak Form of Authentication

Since its inception, the Cyberjustice Laboratory has studied every element and step of the legal process to see if and when technology could be used to facilitate, enhance, or even streamline procedures and, therefore, make the system more accessible and efficient. We are well aware that efficiency is often misconstrued as a “bad word” within the context of the legal system since (especially in criminal proceedings) cutting corners to speed up...
Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Can a Robot Administer Oaths?

Not until legislatures allow this. But technically yes. There are two kinds of legal tech. One does not require the state’s approval. The other one does. And, as is usually the case with lawyers, there is a grey area. Let’s talk about the grey area first. I met a lawyer friend at a Starbucks a few days ago. It was a networking/war story meeting just like most social situations with lawyers. We talked about the paperless office. He said he could...
Posted in: Technology