All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: A Critical Look at Smart Contracts

Computer Law and Security Review 35:6 (2019) 1-16.

29 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2021

Date Written: December 16, 2019

Abstract

Smart contracts are coded parameters written into an immutable distributed ledger called a blockchain. There has been increasing legal interest in the application of these self-executing programs to conduct transactions. Most of the scholarly and practical analysis so far has been taken the claims of this technology being akin to a contract at face value, with legal analysis of contract formation, performance, and enforcement at the forefront of the debate. This article discusses that while smart contracts may pose some interesting legal questions, most of these are irrelevant, and smart contracts should be understood almost strictly from a technical perspective, and that any legal response is entirely dependent on the technical capabilities of the smart contract. The article proposes that smart contracts are not contracts for all practical purposes.

Keywords: smart contracts, contract law, formalities, blockchain

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Guadamuz, Andres, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: A Critical Look at Smart Contracts (December 16, 2019). Computer Law and Security Review 35:6 (2019) 1-16. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3805473 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3805473

Andres Guadamuz (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Falmer
Brighton, BN1 9QN
United Kingdom

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