Smart contracts: a remedial analysis

(2020). Smart contracts: a remedial analysis. Information & Communications Technology Law, 30(1) pp. 17–34.



The perpetual script of a smart contract, that executes an agreement machine-to-machine without prejudice, guarantees performance of ‘contractual terms’ enabling the exchange or transaction of cryptoassets and other forms of property. Yet, smart contracts as recognisable or valid legal instruments within the boundaries of contract or property law remain uncertain and contentious. Contrary to perceptions of contractual streamlining and efficiency, understanding the uncertainty smart contracts produce lies in the technology's failure to meet many of the fundamental principles of contract law and theory concerning, for example, breach of promise and remedy for breach. Smart contracts appear to reduce contracting to a form and standard well below that developed by contract law and theory over many centuries in both civil and common law jurisdictions. Including elements of the law of restitution, this article's remedial analysis will examine smart contracts considering ‘traditional’ contract law to understand and, where possible, test the legal legitimacy of this post-human technology, and explore the potential of smart contracts to supplement or, in time, supersede traditional contract law.

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