HCCH a|Bridged: A Short Recap

I had the good fortune to attend the Hague Conference’s HCCH a|Bridged event yesterday. It was an interesting time to be at the Peace Palace, as the supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi were protesting outside. Lots of protests and public interest in what was going on in the Peace Palace, the public blissfully ignorant of what was going on right next door in the Academy Building.

I am not going to give a blow-by-blow of the event. My own presentation followed the preview I gave last month. It was interesting to hear the experiences in administration of the Convention and e-litigation more generally provided by the representatives of the American, British, French, Brazilian, and Korean governments who spoke. There were two other points I found particular interesting. The first had to do with the use of distributed leverage technology in connection with the Convention. #blockchain. Block. Chain. Several speakers outlined the technology, its eventual promise, and reasons for caution. For example, my fellow panelist Emma Van Gelder made the important point that the DLT doesn’t eliminate the need for trust; it just means putting your trust in the developers of the DLT software. And that raises the possibility of power imbalances. We also had a very good reminder from Aashna Bhikhari, a Dutch judicial officer, that service of process serves cautionary and other purposes, not just the purpose of notice. If process is served electronically, will the recipient understand the seriousness of the event or what he must do? It was a good reminder of the human element in this most technical of areas of procedural law. Brody Warren gave an excellent talk about the construction of the phrase “postal channels” in the Convention, with reference to the corresponding French phrase used in the earlier procedural conventions, and what that history tells us about reading the Convention to reach modern technologies that have functional similarities to the traditional post.

Congratulations to the HCCH for putting together this most interesting event, which combined presentations from an outstanding group of panelists with a more informal style than is typical at HCCH meetings. May this be the first of many!

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