Smart (Legal) Contracts, or: Which (Contract) Law for Smart Contracts?

Benedetta Cappiello & Gherardo Carullo (eds.), Blockchain, Law and Governance, Springer (Forthcoming)

21 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2020

See all articles by Giesela Ruhl

Giesela Ruhl

Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena; Humboldt-University of Berlin

Date Written: March 10, 2020

Abstract

The law applicable to smart contracts is a neglected topic. At times it is even discarded as irrelevant or unnecessary. In fact, many authors claim that smart contracts especially when stored and executed with the help of blockchain technology make contract law and, in fact, the entire legal system obsolete. “Code is law” is the frequently (mis-) cited catchphrase. In the following chapter I will challenge this view and argue, first, that smart contracts need contract law just as other, traditional contracts, and, second, that the applicable contract law can – at least in most cases – be determined with the help of the traditional rules of private international law.

Keywords: Smart contracts; Blockchain; Cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, Ripple; Applicable law; Contract law; European Union; Rome I Regulation; Contractual obligations; Party Autonomy; Consumer protection

Suggested Citation

Ruhl, Giesela, Smart (Legal) Contracts, or: Which (Contract) Law for Smart Contracts? (March 10, 2020). Benedetta Cappiello & Gherardo Carullo (eds.), Blockchain, Law and Governance, Springer (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3552004

Giesela Ruhl (Contact Author)

Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena ( email )

Faculty of Law
Carl-Zeiss-Straße 3
Jena, Thuringa 07743
Germany

Humboldt-University of Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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