The French National Council of Clerks (NCC) and IBM have developed a blockchain-based commercial court solution devoted to the clerks of commercial courts’ commercial and corporate registry. This blockchain network will be in use from 2019 by those Clerks operating in commercial courts across France.
“This project, which is the result of an autonomous initiative between clerks of commercial courts and IBM, is the continuation of our efforts to be pioneers in the adoption of innovative technologies, to strengthen the quality of the public service provided by the commercial justice system, dedicated to the expectations and requirements of today’s multipolar and interconnected economic world,” said Sophie Jonval, President of the National Clerks Council.
“We must be both pragmatic and at the forefront of progress on a technology such as blockchain. The latter represents a major potential technology for our profession and for the modernization of the tools of Commercial Justice, reflecting our status, our mission and our professional rules.”
The National Council of Clerks
Chaired by Maître Sophie Jonval, the NCC is the representative entity of the clerks of the commercial courts. It exercises its operation across 134 registries spread throughout France’s metropolitan territory.
The NCC is seeking to modernise commercial justice. One aspect includes the creation of a ‘Digital Tribunal’. Others envisage:
- investing in transparency and business security
- facilitating business creation.
The profession plays a fundamental role in the smooth functioning of the French economy by being part of every important moment in the legal life of a company. The NCC clerks have the responsibility for keeping updated the Register of Commerce and Companies. This encompasses nearly 80% of French economic agents.
The NCC’s aims
The NCC aims to add transparency and efficiency through:
- improving management of legal transactions related to the lifecycle of companies
- recording and share information.
This information held will include:
- exchanges of regulatory information related to companies’ difficulties
- changes of status of the company registered on the French territory (change of court office in which a company is registered; change of corporate names; the addition of a new branch office; dissolution of the business, etc.).
A key mission of the Clerks is the maintenance of the commercial and corporate registries holding the legal and economic information on all the businesses. Requests for updates can affect multiple regions. This demands coordination among the different local registries.
The NCC platform
The NCC blockchain platform uses the Hyperledger Fabric framework, an open source project from the Linux Foundation. The design makes it possible to:
- streamline the exchange of information among the clerks
- improve efficiency
- deliver better services to companies.
The blockchain network also:
- enables the sharing of a single version of truth across the courts by clerks
- ensures the traceability and transparency of notifications related to legal changes
- improves the dynamic of court clerks’ interactions.
In a pilot, the NCC was able to decrease the time to update the registry from several days for some complex cases to a single day. The first tests ran successfully, involving four court clerks and IT providers. This provided the basis to confirm a roadmap to move gradually into full scale production in the first half of 2019.
The NCC relied on IBM expertise in blockchain and cryptography to build its (NCC) platform. The decision to run on Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source Linux Foundation project, was made to ensure a reliable, secure blockchain network for all stakeholders.
“This initiative is a first in the Justice sector in France and is a perfect example of blockchain’s role in helping regulated professions as they transform,” said Vincent Fournier, Senior Manager Blockchain at IBM France. “Blockchain’s qualities are ideal for this use, improving the Clerks’ business processes and adapting to the ever-changing nature of their missions.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Most justice administration systems are antique, a mix of paper and processes which do not readily fit the twenty-first century. With this initiative, the NCC is enabling an electronic relationship between its clerks located across Metropolitan France.
The key is the digital trust inherent in a permissioned blockchain network. In delivering this, IBM and the NCC open up new perspectives about how to manage a modern, national commercial and corporate registry.
As important, this initiative strengthens the position of the French Commercial and Corporate Registry in the European Union. The EU is already engaged with the interconnection of national business registers.