Proctor : June 2019
39 PROCTOR | June 2019 Here blockchain distributed trust to a network that provided mathematical proof of a genuine transaction, rather than trusting an intermediary’s opaque tick of approval. These mechanisms bridge the trust gap and enable individuals to take a ‘trust leap’ between the known and the unknown. 11 This is a key innovation that could impact how we transact with one another. Transparency of mathematical proof does not equal trust (rather, individuals demand transparency from people they do not trust), but it does help us bridge the trust gap. This raises the question: what is the role of an intermediary in a world where blockchain can provide much of the ‘trust’ that traditional intermediaries provide? Answering this question is not easy and the roles of intermediaries are neither identical nor static. Still, blockchain gives individuals and institutions license to reconsider how to facilitate trust with a new lens. This may reduce the cost of creating trust as networks and mathematical certainty can be leveraged to reduce friction and the risk of human error and greed. 12 Notes 1 Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Penguin Random House, 2018, 20. 2 The Economist, ‘The Promise of the Blockchain: The Trust Machine’, 31 October 2015, economist.com/ leaders/2015/10/31/the-trust-machine. 3 Joseph Stiglitz, ‘In No One We Trust’, 21 December 2013, The New York Times, opinionator.blogs.nytimes. com/2013/12/21/in-no-one-we-trust/?_r=3. 4 Rachel Botsman, Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why it Might Drive Us Apart, Public Affairs, 2017, 3. 5 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, ‘Final Report’, 4 February 2019, financialservices. royalcommission.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx. 6 Brad Millken, Tom Alstein and Sharon Sun, ‘Restoring Trust in Financial Services in the Digital Era’, July 2018, Deloitte, www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/financial- services/articles/restoring-trust- financial-services- digital-era.html. 7 Satoshi Nakamoto, ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-To-Peer Electronic Cash System’, 31 October 2008, bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf. 8 Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) s768A(1). 9 Lexis Nexis, Halsbury’s Laws of Australia (at 30 January 2018), 430 Trusts, ‘Constitution of an Express Trust’. 10 Botsman, above n4, 210. 11 Botsman, above n4, 20. 12 Sinclair Davidson, Mikayla Novak and Jason Potts, ‘The $29 trillion Cost of Trust’, 24 July 2018, Medium, medium.com/@cryptoeconomics/the-29-trillion-cost- of-trust-be8ffbd5788d. General costing services Kerrie Rosati and Leanne Francis are our court appointed costs assessors and are available to assess costs in all types of disputes including solicitor/ client assessments and complex litigation matters. Costs Assessment Mediation services LEGAL TECHNOLOGY However, the existing legal frameworks don’t fit neatly on distributed and decentralised interaction. As blockchain changes the nature of how individuals can trust and transact, we may also need to rethink the way we can achieve legal oversight and enforcement. Conclusion Blockchain raises the question of how should we trust each other – a decision not offered by existing frameworks. As such, a platform proposing technological trust, and the impacts this has on expensive intermediated corporate structures and embedded legal presumptions should be considered. Barbara Vrettos is a South Australian Executive Member of The Legal Forecast. Special thanks to Michael Bidwell and Lauren Michael of The Legal Forecast for technical advice and editing. The Legal Forecast (thelegalforecast.com) aims to advance legal practice through technology and innovation. TLF is a not-for- profit run by early career professionals passionate about disruptive thinking and access to justice.