I’m beginning to see blockchain-hashed secured consumer transactions referred to my office after default. So far it’s just an evidentiary concern: blockchain storage alters what we say about chain of custody of a contract, but does not otherwise change how we proceed in court. That may change if the proponents of machine arbitration have their way.
At first the idea of machine arbitration of consumer debts sticks in my craw – I see defendants as people who wish they weren’t defendants, not as code. When I chew on it a bit, the idea gets a bit more palatable. For years the weak link in consumer collection litigation has been a near-complete absence of lawyers to act as gatekeepers and make sure parties filing lawsuits are entitled to the relief sought. Default judgment, a collection lawyer’s main tool, means there was no answer by a defendant or substantive review of a case by a court before judgment. In that light a machine well-versed in contract law and able to spot defenses might prove a better first enforcement step for first party creditors than filing a civil lawsuit or selling the file to a third party. I’m watching this space.