Blockchain

How NFT court summons could change the legal landscape

RBB Lab, a technology development firm based in the Republic of San Marino, has utilized nonfungible token (NFT) technology to issue a court summons to a former employee and a contractor.

RBB Lab CEO Enrico Rubboli told Cointelegraph that it summoned the two individuals to the Judiciary of Italy on claims of attempted extortion and aggravated defamation of the firm. The summons was “an order restriction that we are asking them to stop this campaign against us,” said Rubboli.

This is the first time that an NFT has been used to deliver a court summons in Italy. If this technology catches on, it could mean big changes in how Italy handles legal cases in the future.

The RBB team says that serving a summons via the blockchain is more efficient than the traditional process, which can take weeks. Rubboli, said, “The goal is to streamline the process and make it more efficient,” adding:

“As a technology company, we want to push barriers in everything we do. This is an example where technology can facilitate and also improve a system that has been slow to adapt. Our goal is to find opportunities to improve our lives using technology. Unfortunately, the legal system has many examples of inefficiency where a lot can be done.”

RBB Lab is working with the law firm Annetta Rossi e Associati based in Florence, Italy, to develop a set of tools for the legal field. The goal is to create new blockchain-related legal products that can be used by both lawyers and law students. The project is still in its early stages, but the team is already making great progress.

“We have a very good relationship with the law firm and they are familiar with the blockchain. So, we decided to collaborate with them since we are an engineering company and can help them bring a variety of tools to the market such as on-chain forensic tools and the technology to deliver a court summons via the blockchain. We are also exploring the possibility of notarizing documents using the blockchain. So, we’ll have a way to prove that the document was in existence at a certain time,” Rubboli told Cointelegraph

Service of court papers with NFTs

Contrary to what one might expect, the use of NFTs for the service of court papers is becoming more commonplace. In fact, two courts in the United Kingdom and the United States have approved serving summons with NFTs in the context of a legal dispute potentially paving the way for more widespread use.

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As more and more people have begun using NFTs, the number of court cases linked to NFTs has also grown considerably over the last few years. One of the most recent ones saw a law firm use an NFT to serve a defendant with a temporary restraining order.

Another example saw a company taking the rather unique step of serving a defendant with an NFT as evidence in an $8 million hacking case.

The fact that lawyers have been embracing NFTs as a viable form of service in legal matters, regardless of the jurisdiction, is a clear sign that this new technology has been accepted and is being used in the legal community.

The traditional way of serving court papers has been characterized by personal delivery, yet with the emergence of blockchain technology, there is the opportunity to explore a more modern approach. This could have a wide-reaching effect on individuals and businesses alike, as it could potentially open up a world of possibilities for how court papers are served in the future.

When asked for the reason behind their decision to deliver the summons through an NFT, Rubboli answered:

“Through traditional means, the delivery of a summons can be quite difficult. When delivering a summons it should be sent out and delivered as soon as possible and as efficiently as possible.”

“At the moment it's extremely complicated and prone to error due to delivery time and cost to find certain individuals — especially if they are anonymous. NFTs are the way to go because it's reducing and automating the steps which as you know make fewer errors when done responsibly. Just a single error can be used by the counterparty to postpone court, and that of course could create an entire slew of new issues. So, efficiency is extremely important here,” he added.

Consequences for legal system

Although there are many advantages to using NFTs for delivering a court summons, there are also legal requirements that must be observed.

To gain a better understanding of this and the summons potential implications on the Italian legal system, Cointelegraph contacted Pietro Calvaruso from RBB Labs’ legal team for more insight.

“One of the main issues is still represented by a lack of familiarity by our rulers with blockchain technology,” Calvaruso said, “Although the number of professionals capable of using it is fast growing. It’s necessary for a change of mentality by our politicians.”

“The implementation of the blockchain into the Italian legal system would give our country a big boost in terms of the attractiveness of investments and would definitely contribute to creating a more fair environment both for entrepreneurs and consumers.”

Digital asset IP

In addition to using NFTs to serve court documents, some companies are also using them to fight counterfeits.

The use of NFTs allows companies to verify that a digital asset is native, original, and uncopyrighted with blockchain technology.

This technology makes them indestructible and easily verifiable. In addition, it can be used to transfer royalties and fees to the creator through the use of smart contracts.

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This has allowed media companies to tie their unique content to NFTs and provide their customers with a one-of-a-kind experience by taking advantage of this technology.

Earlier this year, The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based metaverse, partnered with the NFT collective World of Women.

This partnership serves as a great platform for the company to continue its mission of achieving greater education and representation for women in the virtual world.

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