Our path to the blockchain is a bit different. We're an established application
seeking a solution via a smart token. We started PeopleClaim several years ago as an experiment in social
justice. Our goal was to learn if technology could fix the legal system—i.e., reduce
costs, disintermediate justice, and increase access for people with disputes that
were impractical to resolve through traditional law.
PeopleClaim evolved into
a process we call “OCDR,” or online community dispute resolution. We learned later
that our process is something like how the ancient Greeks resolved civil disputes:
they'd hold a public forum where any citizen could win a bounty of gold coins by
suggesting the resolution that brought the parties to agreement.
30,000 cases later, PeopleClaim
has become a popular way for consumers, patients, employees, and others to resolve
disputes with the help of the public. Disputing parties can also invite domain experts
(such as mechanics, dentists, or lawyers) from our online community to offer specific
expert feedback about their case. (Turns out it’s more efficient to ask a group
of experienced mechanics the best way to resolve an auto repair claim than to ask
a legal professional.)
Cases are posted online and the public is invited to offer suggestions as to how
to best resolve them. Once a case is resolved it's removed from public view and
the parties have legal agreement. Our community has about 100,000 registered users.
We call the people who help resolve cases by suggesting solutions or offering advice
"public mediators"—although we’re using “mediation” in a non-traditional sense,
since the process is generally public and participants don’t have to be neutral
as they do in traditional mediation.
We don't currently handle settlement execution, cash transfers, compliance, etc.—although
settlement defaults can be reposted on the site for further negotiation. We've resolved
claims with most major national consumer brands, as well as local product and service
Our process works well for most claimants, and a lot of businesses appreciate the
idea of allowing the public to help find the fairest resolution to consumer claims.
Businesses also appreciate the fact that there’s no charge to them to settle a case
using PeopleClaim; it
saves them a lot of money.
The blockchain solution: Rhubarb.
The blockchain resolves most of these issues elegantly and will allow us to accelerate
our current application growth rapidly. PeopleClaim will make the RHU its default currency
for claim filing, rewards, and settlement. This eliminates the problem of mediator
incentives and payments by incorporating mediator incentive fees into the final
settlement terms via smart contracts. We can process fee and settlement transactions
in developing countries more easily and the parties can post and settle their cases
anonymously if circumstances require it.
New model—our eureka moment
However, we still needed to address the cost of incentives to attract and engage
mediators to help resolve cases, and the need for certainty of settlement. We've
resolved this problem by creating a voting mechanism on the blockchain called Poll
Verdicts, whereby our network members—initially the same PeopleClaim community participants who have been helping
resolve disputes—can vote to create a consensus for any dispute posted on the site.
As explained in our white paper, participants are required to post a RHU deposit,
which they forfeit if their vote falls outside the consensus at the final tally.
The consensus voters earn the forfeited RHU as reward for "mining a justice consensus."
This process creates risk and reward incentives for members to compete to create
consensus around the best resolution to any claim posted on PeopleClaim. However, this same process can be used by other
platforms to resolve conflicts in traditional court, in arbitration, and in government
policy-making, as well as in the world of proliferating blockchain applications,
where we see inevitable conflicts both within an application and between colliding
ROI from network voting can be very high depending on the consensus breakdowns and
other factors we’re incorporating in the process. We plan to begin beta testing
Poll Verdicts soon within the
PeopleClaim community and then offer them to other platforms as an objective
and more democratic process of conflict resolution based on informed consensus of
our member base. As demand for RHU-based Poll Verdicts grows, we expect demand for
the RHU to increase, which should create significant and sustained appreciation
in the RHU over time. More importantly, anyone will be able to resolve a dispute
of any size quickly, and at no cost—thereby achieving our goal of universal and
equal access to justice.