Conflict Management for Regulation-Averse Blockchains?

Forthcoming in Ballardini, R.M., Pitkänen, O. & Kuoppamäki, P., Regulating Industrial Internet through IPR, Data Protection and Competition Law, Kluwer Law Int. (2019)

Posted: 23 May 2019

See all articles by Riikka Koulu

Riikka Koulu

University of Helsinki – Faculty of Law

Kalle Markkanen

University of Helsinki – Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

The blockchain architecture is often envisioned as a potential mechanism for the automation microtransactions between interconnected IoT applications, as transactions could be directly enforced through the technical governance structure it provides. However, this chapter draws attention to the limitations of the blockchain architecture in providing tools for conflict management, which is here considered to be a vital for both governance and the legitimacy of the system. Although blockchain’s potential for conflict prevention is often emphasised, experiences from public blockchain networks such as Ethereum demonstrate that prevention is not sufficient but instead dispute resolution mechanisms are needed for addressing unpredictable events. To this end, alternative conflict management strategies have been developed for blockchain-related disputes. We assess these emergent redress mechanisms from the perspective of conflict management with specific attention to fairness of outcomes and due process rules. By making a distinction between systemic disputes and low intensity disputes we demonstrate how conflict management, governance and technological infrastructure converge on blockchain networks. This convergence, in turn, influences how fairness expectations and due process safeguards are formulated, causing concern for the fairness of emergent conflict management. The design of blockchain-based IoT applications should take into consideration the need for conflict management and particular attention should be paid to the fairness of such mechanisms, as these contribute to the fulfillment of fairness expectations, the legitimacy and predictability of governance structures and, in the end, feasibility of mainstream use.

Keywords: blockchains, distributed systems, smart contracts, governance, conflict management

JEL Classification: K12, K40

Suggested Citation

Koulu, Riikka and Markkanen, Kalle, Conflict Management for Regulation-Averse Blockchains? (March 1, 2019). Forthcoming in Ballardini, R.M., Pitkänen, O. & Kuoppamäki, P., Regulating Industrial Internet through IPR, Data Protection and Competition Law, Kluwer Law Int. (2019), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3377143

Riikka Koulu (Contact Author)

University of Helsinki – Faculty of Law ( email )

Porthania 5th Floor
P.O. Box 4
Helsinki, FIN-0001 4
Finland

Kalle Markkanen

University of Helsinki – Faculty of Law ( email )

Porthania 5th Floor
P.O. Box 4
Helsinki, FIN-0001 4
Finland

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