Love, loss and crypto – and groundbreaking DIY legal smart contracts

It’s an age old story: Boy meets girl. They fall in love, but later grow apart. Then they enter into a groundbreaking legal smart contract to transfer ownership of a car …

The car in question – a 2010 Land Rover Defender the pair fitted out as a campervan – was transferred between them in a legally binding sale contract in early November for US$10,000 worth of JUR cryptocurrency.

It’s the first genuine legal contract executed on the Jur Beta Platform – an automated, blockchain-based platform enabling anyone to set up legally binding and enforceable legal smart contracts.

Users fill out a few forms, set up some conditions for the sale, and the crypto is held in escrow until the sale conditions are met.

In this case, the buyer agreed to transfer the JUR tokens within a week and the seller agreed to provide the keys and paperwork in a similar time frame.

The Land Rover sale contract took less than ten minutes and cost a grand total of $1.50.

Current legal system is prohibitively expensive

While there are plenty of benefits and protections to drawing up contracts and holding money in escrow, until now it was a prohibitively expensive process to justify the sale of a second hand car – or most other transactions undertaken by everyday people.

Lab technician Stefan, 32, from Tyrol, has been a VeChain supporter since 2017, which is how he heard about Jur’s initial exchange offering (IEO) back in August this year.

Jur is headquartered in Switzerland and uses the VeChain blockchain network.

An enthusiastic member of their subreddit and Telegram communities, he floated the idea of selling the car to former partner Daniela as a way to demonstrate the platform’s benefits.

“I was really stunned when I heard you can do legally binding contracts on the blockchain,” he said. “I think it could make the world better.”

Freelance graphic designer Daniela, from Vienna, conceded it probably would have been just as easy to sell the car the old fashioned way as they already trust each other, but said this sale demonstrated how effective the platform could be for contracts between strangers.

“We wanted to participate in the project because we thought it was really exciting to be part of a new technology and to help grow the platform,” she said.

The handover for the Land Rover.

The Land Rover’s history

The couple was together for six years, and “got hooked” on crypto during the 2017 bull run.

They bought the Land Rover to travel around Norway and Albania at the end of that year. Like everyone else, they then lost a bunch of money during crypto winter and broke up at the end of 2018. (Daniela said the two things were not related.)

Bitten by the travel bug, she decided to buy out Stefan’s share of the Land Rover a few months ago so she can travel around Europe, working remotely as a designer while camping out.

With the sale complete, she gave notice on her Vienna apartment this week and will set off in the Land Rover for Portugal in March next year.

Platform is targeting four initial verticals

Daniella hopes to use the Jur platform in future to create legal smart contracts for her freelance work.

That’s one of the four initial use cases being targeted by Jur along with real estate, investments, and payroll.

Jur’s CEO Alessandro Palombo said he hopes Jur will do for legal contracts what Word Press did for websites.

“In my opinion, this is a game-changer for the power of people to make safe agreements, accessible through technology,” he said.

Jur, which takes its name from the Latin root for words like Jury and Jurisdiction, is still under development and one of its most important features, smart contract dispute resolution, is yet to be implemented.

Three methods to resolve legal disputes

There are three avenues planned on Jur: the free to access ‘open layer’ where users staking JUR can vote on the resolution for smaller disputes and are rewarded with tokens if they pick the ‘winning’ side.

Then there’s the ‘community layer’ where experts in the field resolve issues and a ‘court layer’, where online courts issue legally binding decisions that Jur claims are recognized in 150 countries.

Jur’s community and court layers are still under development, while the ‘open layer’ is currently being tested out by 30 law students as part of the Lab For New Justice initiative at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

Jur CTO Luca Yesupatham Daniel said: “I’m confident in the technology, and we’ve had the smart contracts audited, but we really want to test the user side of it. Is it user friendly, does it make sense, it this really production ready for people? If everything goes smoothly we can release it into production.”

Emerging field of blockchain-based dispute resolution

Jur is not the only company in the emerging field of blockchain-based dispute resolution.

Kleros is already up and running and has settled more than 130 disputes so far (mostly token listings as they have partnered with Bitfinex) and another provider, Aragon Court, will soon start settling disputes too.

Stefan said there is one risky aspect of creating legal smart contract – they’d agreed on the number of Jur tokens equivalent to $10,000 a week before they were transferred, but they lost value in the interim.

It went down quite a lot, 20-30%, but it’s already up again, so no worries, ” he said.

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