Smart Contracts: A Requiem

Journal of Contract Law , Forthcoming

22 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2019

See all articles by Eliza Mik

Eliza Mik

TILT; The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law; Melbourne Law School

Date Written: December 7, 2019


"Smart contracts” are technologies that facilitate the generation and transfer of blockchain-based crypto-assets. The unfortunate labeling of these technologies as "contracts" has spawned a plethora of legal theories, which are built on unsubstantiated technical claims, terminological misunderstandings as well as on a general disillusionment with traditional institutions. Concepts such as “validation” or “self-enforcement,” both of which constitute permanent fixtures of the “smart contract” narrative, seem to have hijacked common sense with promises of certainty and guaranteed performance to the point where a structured and logical argument is rendered difficult. It is necessary to clarify the meaning of the term and remind those who debate the legal enforceability and validity of “smart contracts” of the basic principles of contract law. In particular, it is necessary to recall that contract law is indifferent to the manner parties express their agreement.

Keywords: smart contracts, blockchains, e-commerce, law and technology, cyberlaw

JEL Classification: K12, K22

Suggested Citation

Mik, Eliza and Mik, Eliza, Smart Contracts: A Requiem (December 7, 2019). Journal of Contract Law , Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Eliza Mik (Contact Author)

TILT ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Law ( email )

6/F, Lee Shau Kee Building
Shatin, New Territories
Kowloon, Sha Tin
Hong Kong

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Melbourne, VIC 3010

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