Collusion by Blockchain and Smart Contracts

Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (33 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 117)

51 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2019 Last revised: 12 Mar 2020

See all articles by Thibault Schrepel

Thibault Schrepel

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Stanford University's Codex Center; University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)

Date Written: January 14, 2019


Blockchain may transform transactions the same way the Internet altered the dissemination and nature of information. If that were to be the case, all relationships between companies would change, including prohibited ones such as collusive agreements. For that reason, the stakes are crucial and the absence of academic studies entirely dedicated to this issue must be remedied.

To this end, this article introduces the first taxonomy of collusion on blockchain. The discussion then moves on to explore their functioning, their robustness and their limits through the three fundamental stages of the existence of collusive agreements: their birth, life and death. The article further highlights how companies may use smart contracts and sophisticated algorithms to collude in the blockchain environment, thus contributing to the literature solely focused on algorithms.

Using empirical studies, economic analyses and existing case law, we draw legal conclusions that we extend beyond the sole blockchain technology. Along the way, we propose methods of action for antitrust and competition agencies.

Keywords: antitrust, blockchain, smart contract, algorithms, competition, collusion, cartel

JEL Classification: K21, K20, L12, L40, L41, L42, L43, L44, L51, O31, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Schrepel, Thibault, Collusion by Blockchain and Smart Contracts (January 14, 2019). Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (33 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 117), Available at SSRN: or

Thibault Schrepel (Contact Author)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam

Stanford University's Codex Center ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne ( email )


Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337

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