This Canadian Ethereum Blockchain Dev Wants You to Avoid Expensive Lawyers

Journalist:
Benjamin Vitáris
June 7, 2017

The cost of a legal procedure can be really expensive, especially in Canada, where most people will need a lawyer at some point of the case, however, many could not afford such costs. The legal magazine Canadian Lawyer published a survey for last year showing that lawyer fees in the North-American country can go as high as $761 in the case of a simple will or $4,508 for a work permit.

On the other hand, Matthew Rappard, a Toronto developer behind the StonePaper project, seeks to avoid such expensive fees. According to him, with the use of the StonePaper app, people can do their own legal work instead of hiring costly lawyers. His application uses Ethereum for the payments and the blockchain technology, merging it with contracts written by lawyers. This way, users will be able to arrange their legal matters through the software, without the need for professional help.

As stated on the website of the application, StonePaper takes much care about the security of the users’ details. Unlike ordinary databases, information stored on the blockchain is “immutable”, it can’t be changed or modified. The tech allows, for example, a single contract to be stored on thousands of computers. In addition, when a user uploads a document, StonePaper only allows others to verify if it is a real contract, but they can’t read it without the user’s permission.

“Users can specify their contracts to be as public or as private as the users want. For Copyright or Trademark information the information can be stored publically, for more secure information the information can be encrypted and stored off blockchain. The contents of the contract can even be stored offline with a secure hash of the document stored on the Blockchain making it impossible for a hacker to access the data,” the StonePaper website reads.

Signing a contract on the Blockchain is as legal as a contract signed on paper. Additionally, the tech allows the user to digitally sign the record, and it is dated with person’s own cryptographic signature. To access a contract, the user will be given a memory address where the document exists on the blockchain.

According to Rappard, his app will provide each user with a unique identity. The procedure starts with the creation of the account, along with an Ethereum wallet, and after that, a bank or a lawyer confirms that the wallet belongs to the user. Since the bank or the lawyer confirmed that the wallet is the user’s, it would mean that only he or she could sign or upload it to the blockchain, Rappard said.

Despite that StonePaper wants to avoid the legal costs, Rappard advises users to seek a lawyer to write legal contracts since they are “normally better at it”.

Regarding the security of the software, Rappard also mentioned the major hack of the Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO), an investment platform on the Ethereum blockchain. Since there was a problem with the code, a hacker managed to stole approximately $60 million worth of ETH from the DAO’s funds. The attack resulted in the price of ether falling by 40 percent and the price of DAO tokens by 70 percent.

“The DAO hack was not a security flaw in Ethereum, but a flaw in the software that DAO ran on. StonePaper contracts can only be modified if the wallet accessing it is one of the signatories. This effectively stops the hackers in the same way a password protects a computer. If a signatory tries to hack the contract, that is considered a contract violation under law, and the user will be subject to punishment,” Rappard said.

Rappard added that not everyone is comfortable with blockchain innovation, or technology for that matter. According to him, some people “generally don’t like to trust a computer if they can avoid it”.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified (UTC): June 7, 2017 15:37

Tags: Ethereum
Benjamin Vitáris

Ben is a crypto journalist and copywriter who has a great passion for blockchain technology. He believes that decentralization empowers people to take charge of their lives, and gives back what we desired for a long time: financial freedom. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminVitaris or email him directly at dzsuvalance(at)gmail.com. Benjamin is crafting crypto content from his home office in Budapest, Hungary.