Ethereum could get its own Supreme court, says Matter Labs CEO


Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski has proposed a hierarchical court system within the Ethereum network, mirroring real-world structures.

In a Sept. 2 post on X (formerly known as Twitter), Gluchowski envisions an “Ethereum Supreme Court” that would function similarly to the US Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate adjudicator for disputes arising from smart contract issues. It would negate the necessity of involving traditional legal avenues or lawyers.

The genesis of the Ethereum Supreme Court

Gluchowski emphasized that the primary role of this system would be to shield protocols from external political interference. He believes it would be a potent deterrent mechanism, enhancing Ethereum’s stature as a formidable network state.

Delving deeper into the concept, Gluchowski explained that a tiered system of on-chain courts would manage the disputes and emergency upgrades. The pinnacle of this system would be an Ethereum layer-1 soft fork, dubbed the “Court of Final Appeal.”

Each protocol would govern itself in this structure, having regular and emergency upgrade mechanisms in place. Additionally, a particular contract would be designated to initiate an appeal process.

An appeal window would be opened during an emergency upgrade, allowing any user to lodge a challenge to a higher court, albeit after depositing a predetermined bail amount. The hierarchical structure of the courts would be clearly defined, with the Ethereum Supreme Court being the ultimate recourse for appellants.

Current solutions and their limitations

Gluchowski illustrated that protocols like Aave and Uniswap could potentially resolve disputes in courts named CourtUnchained or JusticeDAO. Following a verdict from these courts, parties would have the option to escalate the matter to the Ethereum Supreme Court.

However, Gluchowski conceded that the success of this on-chain court system hinges on robust social consensus. He acknowledged that the process would be costly, ensuring that only cases of significant magnitude would be presented before it. He cited instances that would warrant such attention, including bugs in major protocols like Uniswap or a DeFi protocol posing a systemic risk.

While acknowledging the existence of several current solutions to address such disputes, Gluchowski argued their effectiveness is limited. He cited the inadequacy of time-locked features on smart contracts during emergencies and the potential risks of introducing a security council.

“A security council could only freeze the contract temporarily, requiring a token governance approval for an emergency upgrade. But now a malicious majority of undercollaterized stakers could perform an evil take-over upgrade and steal all the assets.” 

Alex Gluchowski, co-founder and CEO of Matter Labs.

In conclusion, Gluchowski announced that he, along with his team at zkSync, a layer-2 scaling solution developed by Matter Labs, are willing to support research into this latest proposal financially, indicating a promising step towards a more autonomous and secure future for the Ethereum network.

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