Design goals of the EOS Core Arbitration Forum
Current blockchains can be classified as either 1) un-permissioned (free-entry, limited rules governing complex behaviour, e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) or 2) permissioned (walled garden with central authority controlling access, strict rule-set, e.g. Ripple). With EOS we are building a Governed Blockchain that is a hybrid of the two, allowing free entry to a rules-based environment (for more on the Governed Blockchain see Ian Grigg’s video on YouTube, https://youtube.com/watch?v=qS5a_yS5NXo).
EOS Governance can be thought of as having three fundamental pillars:
- Legislative: in EOS these are the token holders who vote periodically on issues, feature upgrades, referenda etc
- Executive: in EOS these are the Block producers who produce blocks as directed by system parameters chosen by the token holders and carry out decisions by the Judiciary
- Judiciary: in EOS these are the Arbitrators who are authorised by the Constitution to rule in disputes brought to an Arbitration Forum (i.e. a group of Arbitrators and case managers, and a set of Rules of Dispute Resolution)
There has been a lot of material shared, and subsequent debate, around how the Legislative and Executive function within EOS; leaving the Community understandably curious about the structure of the 3rd leg.
Following from the format for the Draft Constitution, this article presents the design goals behind the EOS Core Arbitration Forum. This will be the first of several articles discussing the Governance team’s suggested dispute-resolution structures and processes.
Agreement is not required. They are here so the reader can see the reasons for certain design choices. If you have different standards, goals, or principles, please state yours explicitly. That makes it clearer why we may disagree on any aspect.
What is an Arbitration Forum?
An arbitration forum is an independent, impartial group of trained professionals who specialise in helping mutually-agreeing parties to resolve disputes outside of courts. In the off-chain world there are multiple examples of Arbitration Forums, such as the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR: www.icdr.org) or the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA: www.lcia.org).
This begs the question, why create a dedicated EOS Arbitration Forum? Why not use an existing Arbitration Forum? We create a new forum, because blockchain adds a new context for arbitration. We do it because this new decentralized global platform for contractual agreement and value transfer bridges hundreds of jurisdictions. Having a single context -- one whose boundaries all participants can examine and agree upon before entry -- facilitates faster, cheaper, and fairer dispute resolution. In addition, existing off-chain Arbitration rule sets are not well adapted to handle some of the issues that will occur on a blockchain.
The EOS Core Arbitration Forum is a body that is composed of several parts:
- Its basis for existence via
a. The EOS Constitution, which relies on the Arbitration Act (a generic umbrella term) of each country that authorises courts to enforce private rulings
b. The EOS Rules for Dispute Resolution (RDR): which are incorporated by reference in the EOS Constitution. The RDR presents the rules for how disputes are resolved on the EOS chain
c. The EOS Arbitration Handbook: which describes the procedural elements for how the EOS Core Arbitration forum operates
- The Arbitrators, being individuals, groups of individuals or firms, that resolve arbitration disputes according to the EOS Constitution, RDR and Arbitration Guidelines
- The Core Arbitration Forum’s Administrators: who oversee the day to day running of the Core Arbitration Forum. This includes aspects such as:
a. The recruitment, vetting and training of Arbitrators
b. A process for adding new Arbitrators to the forum, and very occasionally, "retiring" or replacing Arbitrators
c. A process for assigning an Arbitrator to a new dispute
d. Liaising with Block Producers to effect Arbitration rulings
To have an Arbitration Forum at launch we therefore need to have 1) Rules written, 2) Arbitrators appointed and, 3) Administrators in place.
One default EOS arbitration forum
Available at launch and authorised as part of Article III of the initial EOS Constitution
- Also needs a second Constitutional statement that authorises this specific forum
This means it can be voted out, other arbitration forums and rules added etc
- For the main chain as well as forks that adopt the EOS constitution
- Contracts written on the original chain were written with the original constitution and arbitration forum in mind. Therefore the contract, on both chains, should remain with the original constitution and Arbitration forum. Anything else would be tantamount to re-writing the contract
- At another level if a forked chain adopts the original Constitution then it is essentially the same chain at the contract level and therefore the original Arbitration forum should apply. (For an interesting take on this, see this article on Steemit: https://steemit.com/eos/@iang/life-is-a-cabaret-or-how-to-split-and-merge-a-blockchain.)
Community based arbitration
Traditional arbitration systems normally focus on disputes that arise from an individual contract between two parties. In setting up an arbitration forum for EOS, we will need to broaden the scope of entities that are party to an arbitration. By doing this, the forum can cover a wider range of disputes - such as disputes between two parties that do not have a contract between them. In addition, EOS arbitration will need to consider activities such as Fraud, Theft, Defamation and violation of community norms (e.g. BP behaviour, prohibition on vote buying).
Arbitration will therefore need to consider disputes between:
- Contractor vs contractor
- Damaged person vs possible harming person
- (de facto) community vs person
- Concern vs consumer
- Reviews over community roles
Fair as possible resolution
The stated goal of Arbitration shall be to balance the power between the parties and result in a resolution that is as fair as possible, in the manner in which fairness is understood and expressed by the Constitution, laws, rules and customs of the community.
Arbitrators rule over both claims and claimants
When a claim is made, it puts both the claimant and the respondent before the arbitrator. Therefore the arbitrator can find damages against the claimant if the claim is shown to be wrongful.
Rules in English only
Similar to the EOS Constitution, the Core Arbitration Forum’s rules and procedures will be written in English. This does not mean, however, that Arbitrations should be conducted exclusively in English. Arbitrations may take place in the language that is most appropriate for the claimants and the case in question, as decided by the Arbitrator.
Brevity, written for the community, not for lawyers
The goal is for a terse Arbitration rule-set that takes a common-sense approach and is easily understood by the community.
The next posts will dig further into the BIOS process for the Core Arbitration Forum, how Arbitrators are selected to the Forum, remedies Arbitrators may apply and, last but not least, the Arbitration principles.
(The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other entity.)
EDIT: Changed name to Core Arbitration Forum