Hot off the heels of its announcement that the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (AGDM) Arbitration Centre will be facilitating mediation in the metaverse comes the next "game-changer for justice". 

Specifically, the ADGM is launching a blockchain based system that will certify judgments and permit others to verify those judgments from around the world. 

At present, this development (the first in the world of its kind) will have two important impacts: 

  1. It will save time and money for those parties looking to enforce ADGM judgments in other jurisdictions by reducing the need to apply for copies of judgments through the courts; and

  2. It will help to improve the justice system's sustainability as it strives to move more of its services online as part of the digitization strategy. 

The truly exciting prospect for those operating in multi-jurisdictional disputes, and especially those in the fraud and the asset recovery sectors, however, is the possibilities for what this could herald in the future. 

It is not difficult to imagine a future in which jurisdictions that have reciprocal enforcement agreements, who are adopting their own blockchain technologies for their judicial systems, could take advantage of integration and co-operation using those systems to obtain a commercial advantage. By way of example only, if there was greater access to verified information across the judicial systems on the blockchain, it might be possible to expedite requests for the assistance of a foreign court to obtain evidence from a witness in that jurisdiction. Anything that could expedite that process would be exceedingly welcome for practitioners and would also further access to justice.  

If (and how quickly) that becomes a reality remains to be seen. It is interesting to remind ourselves, however, that as of 13 September 2022, the UAE Ministry of Justice issued a Directive that confirms judgments issued by the English Courts can be enforced by the UAE Courts. That places judgments of the English Courts on a similar footing to those of GCC countries, Saudi Arabia, China, India and France (among others) in terms of reciprocal enforcement. With strong relationships with its near neighbors in the GCC and India, as well as further afield in the UK and China the Middle East is therefore positioning itself ever more pre-eminently as the hub for the digital economy, focusing on all aspects of litigation from mediation to enforcement.

Looking further ahead, in cases concerning fraud and asset recovery, speed of access to verified information becomes even more important, especially in the context of ex parte applications for injunctions. If there are certain jurisdictions where it became possible to enforce a freezing injunction almost instantaneously by virtue of a recognition agreement and access to verified information on the blockchain it would not be fanciful to suggest that blockchain technology could eventually make the freezing injunction a truly worldwide weapon of asset protection and enforcement. 

An exciting development and one whose impact will likely extend far and wide. Watch this space.