Piercing the Digital Veil: A Case Study for a DAO Legal Framework under Swiss Law

Forthcoming, Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Law "JIPITEC"

20 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2021 Last revised: 30 Nov 2021

See all articles by Benedikt Schuppli

Benedikt Schuppli

Independent; Lisk Foundation

Golnaz A. Jafari

University of Lucerne, lucernaiuris

Date Written: October 28, 2021

Abstract

Blockchain technology is associated with the emergence of decentralised applications such as smart contracts and Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAO) as self-governing and software-based agents. The concept of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer vending machine serving both as a testing ground for the design of a marketplace for physical goods, and a speculative artefact has been posited and analysed from an economic perspective by a group of scholars at the Center for Innovative Finance of the University of Basel, Switzerland. Building on this particular case study, this paper provides for a legal analysis under Swiss law.

In Part A, the economic analysis of the initiative is briefly described.

In Part B, the proposed concept is analysed from a de lege lata perspective, taking into account foremost liability questions both from Swiss private law (tort and contractual) and public law (criminal and tax law) perspectives, by building on literature and applicable case law. For this, the authors propose a hypothetical scenario upon which a legal analysis is applied. As a result of the analysis, a conclusion is drawn highlighting the status quo in Swiss legal framework, whereby the authors argue in favour of a possible reform for the purpose of enhancing legal certainty.

In Part C, the authors then examine, from a de lege ferenda perspective, the question of whether the Swiss legislative body would require introducing a bespoke legal framework for DAOs. For this, a reference is made to relevant foreign legislation such as the State of Wyoming DAO Bill, without essentially taking a comparative approach.

Keywords: Blockchain; DLT; Decentralised Autonomous Organisations; DAO, Legal Personality; Smart Contracts

Suggested Citation

Schuppli, Benedikt and A. Jafari, Golnaz, Piercing the Digital Veil: A Case Study for a DAO Legal Framework under Swiss Law (October 28, 2021). Forthcoming, Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and Electronic Commerce Law "JIPITEC", Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3951804 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3951804

Lisk Foundation ( email )

Dammstrasse 16
Zug, 6300
Switzerland

Golnaz A. Jafari

University of Lucerne, lucernaiuris

Frohburgstrasse 3
P.O. Box 4466
Lucerne, CH - 6002
Switzerland

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