Innovation prize for the judiciary’s first co-operative blockchain project

The Bundesnotarkammer and the Bavarian Ministry of Justice’s project testing the digital version of notarial powers of attorney and certificates of inheritance has been nominated for yet another award.


The Bavarian judiciary and German notaries keep promoting digitalisation. The Bavarian Ministry of Justice and the Bundesnotarkammer received the “Reallabore” innovation prize for their latest project. The prize was awarded by the German Economics Minister Peter Altmaier on 26 May 2020. A jury selected 9 participants from a total of 125 contributions. Furthermore, the project has been chosen as one of the three finalists for the “Best Cooperation Project” of the eGovernment competition, which is organised under the auspices of the Head of the Federal Chancellery Helge Braun. The winners will be announced on 16 June 2020.

During the digital presentation of the innovation prize, the Bavarian Minister of Justice said: “The world of tomorrow will be digital. We want to maximise benefits of digitalisation for the judiciary. The project is the first cooperation on blockchain in the justice sector. Blockchain technology can simplify and accelerate certain processes. The prize is a beautiful tribute to our innovative spirit.”    

With the scientific support of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (FIT), the Ministry of Justice and the Bundesnotarkammer developed a prototype for a new digital register of valid powers of attorney. The President of the Bundesnotarkammer, Prof. Dr. Jens Bormann, stresses: “As notaries, we want to actively participate in digitalisation. That is why we have started building up practical experience with blockchain technology at a very early stage. In this context, providing individual legal advice and tailoring contracts to the needs of the parties thanks to notarial involvement remains an indispensable asset. It is all about combining the best of two worlds.” 

Notarial powers of attorney and certificates of inheritance issued by the courts must be subject to specific protection against misuse. They may circulate only as long as they are valid. When based on blockchain, the register reliably displays at any time whether a power of attorney or a certificate of inheritance is still valid, thus preventing misuse. Therefore, data is protected and citizens, notaries and courts can more easily use authentic acts. Paper documents and lengthy court proceedings aimed at declaring the voidance of powers of attorney and certificates of inheritance could consequently be condemned to the past.  

Indeed, when a power of attorney is revoked or a certificate of inheritance is withdrawn due to inaccuracy, up to now, the concerned document had to be returned or declared as invalid by a court. This cumbersome procedure could be avoided in the future. “What takes three months in the paper world, could be done in three mouse clicks in the future”, says Mr Eisenreich.

This project also provides insights into the digitisation of other documents and execution copies, for instance, drivers licenses or enforceable court decisions.

Finally, both project partners declared their intention to enter a second implementation phase and to lobby for the necessary legislative changes.

Background:

Blockchain technology describes a system for data storage that is managed and saved in a decentralised manner (a distributed ledger). It was invented to safely send money via a computer. The first and most well-known applications were cryptocurrencies. “Decentralised” means that the data is not stored on a server, but distributed on many computers. A chain of blocks is hereby created that can no longer be modified and/or stolen. Compared to a centrally administered system, blockchain is more resilient to attacks and there are less system failures. Therefore, users can rely on the accuracy and availability of the retrieved data.

© BMWi

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