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Moving the law to the blockchain, the Dutch Justice Ministry plans to streamline the litigation process


The Dutch Ministry of Justice commissioned startup LegalThings to digitize the law on the blockchain. LegalThings, a software technology company founded in 2014 by developer Arnold Daniels, attorney Rick Schmitz, and economist Martijn Migchelsen.

The company recently showed how to block the entire chain of law. In September this year, the company took part in the blockchain hacking marathon run by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and won the championship. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice appointed them to create the first digitized Dutch law on the blockchain.

The Netherlands has always wanted to improve its public services with blockchain. The country has a large number of blockchain products, but most are still in the research stage. The Ministry of Justice is the first government department to deploy blockchain. The ministry hopes to increase public participation in legal processes and reduce the incidence of fraud while also hoping citizens will have easier access to information in a fair and equitable manner.


The LegalThings platform combines blockchain with FSM (Finite State Machine) to create what they call "active contracts." Active contracts are formal agreements that allow for interaction, and some can be automated. However, this contract will only show the rules and the options available. Participants can make their own decisions, so that the entire process of control will be in the hands of humans rather than robots.

The company believes that its active contract platform outperforms smart contracts in real-world applications because active contracts combine de-centralization, automation, and human interaction. Both humans and computers can easily understand how the platform works. This will automate some of the legal processes while still providing the flexibility to make room for the ultimate possible change.

The Netherlands Ministry of Justice plans to digitize some of the laws in the Penal Code with an active contract program. The main objective is to deal with such cases as "low-level cases", that is, crimes with relatively lesser circumstances, such as petty tricks and small amounts of drug possession It usually takes a lot of time, causing the legal system to block. The Netherlands also believes that this program can reduce costs and increase people's satisfaction with the judicial system.


Whether this approach can be successful remains to be seen. However, once feasible, I believe many countries will be willing to adopt the same method.