Error Correction Mechanisms for Transactional Script Smart Contracts
34 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 2, 2021
This Article explores the implications of transactional script smart contracts used in situations where there is less than total trust between the parties. In particular, this Article asks the question of how parties to these next generation transactional scripts can seek redress and remedies in the event that the transactional script does not perform according to the parties’ intent. Until parties feel safe that any errors can be corrected, large-scale implementation of transactional scripts will be hobbled. Part II of this Article articulates why the term “transactional scripts” is preferable to “smart contracts” and describes the utility and potential of transactional scripts. Part III identifies several factors that hinder greater expansion of the use of transactional scripts. It goes on to identify uncertainty of enforcement as the most important barrier to transactional script innovation, finding that parties will be reluctant to entrust bigger and more complex transactions to transactional scripts until the parties are comfortable that an external mechanism is capable of correcting errors in the execution of the transaction. This lack of reliable enforcement mechanisms is a problem exacerbated by the characteristic of distributed ledger technology, which is to move only forward, preventing revisions or reversals of preexisting entries. Part IV explores and critiques possible mechanisms that may be able to provide error correction, including statutory law, private law, online dispute resolution, public/private regulatory partnership, and common law. Part V concludes the Article, noting that the expansion of transactional scripts’ utility will be tethered to the security provided by available error-correction mechanisms. Only as contracting parties become assured that the integrity of their transactional intent will be effectuated will transactional scripts be adopted for use.
Keywords: smart contracts, transactional scripts, distributed ledger technology, blockchain
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