Collusion by Blockchain and Smart Contracts

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

48 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2019 Last revised: 10 Mar 2019

See all articles by Thibault Schrepel

Thibault Schrepel

Harvard University (Berkman Center); Utrecht University School of Law; University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Date Written: January 14, 2019

Abstract

Blockchain may transform transactions the same way 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 fundamental and the absence of academic studies entirely dedicated to the 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.). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3315182 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3315182

Thibault Schrepel (Contact Author)

Harvard University (Berkman Center) ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Utrecht University School of Law ( email )

Janskerkhof 3
Utrecht, 3512 BK
Netherlands

University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne ( email )

France

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