Disruptive Technology - Disrupted Law? How the Digital Revolution Affects (Contract) Law
C. Twigg-Flesner, "Disruptive Technology - Disrupted Law? How the digital revolution affects (Contract) law" in A. De Franceschi, European Contract Law and the Digital Single Market (Intersentia, 2016)
14 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017
Date Written: May 26, 2016
Much has been said about the effect of disruptive technology on business. In this paper, an attempt is made to consider, in general terms, the implication of “disruptive technology” for the law, particularly contract law. The particular disruptive technology focused on in this paper is more of a “disruptive development”: the so-called digital revolution, and the new business opportunities and production methods which have emerged from the increasing digitalisation of so many activities, not least by utilising the potential of the internet combined with smart-technology. These developments undoubtedly pose interesting challenges for contract law, particularly established paradigms forming the basis of many legal rules. This analysis begins by exploring the notion of disruptive technology, before considering the general challenges for, and possible responses by, the law to new developments in technology or business practice. It will then highlight the main novelties of the digital revolution and turn to some of the specific legal issues which the digital revolution seems to create and consider potential legal responses.
The key argument of this contribution is that there is a danger of rushing towards introducing new legal rules in response to new developments without rigorous consideration of the specific issues for both businesses and consumers which are created by things such as the digital revolution. Once these issues have been fully scoped, any legal responses need to be calibrated carefully so as to deal with these issues in a focused manner – there is a risk that, in the rush to provide a legal response, more problems might be created than solved.
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