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Full-Text Articles in Law

Smart Contracts And The Limits Of Computerized Commerce, Eric D. Chason Jan 2020

Smart Contracts And The Limits Of Computerized Commerce, Eric D. Chason

Faculty Publications

Smart contracts and cryptocurrencies have sparked considerable interest among legal scholars in recent years, and a growing body of scholarship focuses on whether smart contracts and cryptocurrencies can sidestep law and regulation altogether. Bitcoin is famously decentralized, without any central actor controlling the system. Its users remain largely anonymous, using alphanumeric addresses instead of legal names. Ethereum shares these traits and also supports smart contracts that can automate the transfer of the Ethereum cryptocurrency (known as ether). Ethereum also supports specialized "tokens" that can be tied to the ownership of assets, goods, and services that exist completely outside of the ...


Transactional Scripts In Contract Stacks, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman Jan 2020

Transactional Scripts In Contract Stacks, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Deals accomplished through software persistently residing on computer networks—sometimes called smart contracts, but better termed transactional scripts—embody a potentially revolutionary contracting innovation. Ours is the first precise account in the legal literature of how such scripts are created, and when they produce errors of legal significance.

Scripts’ most celebrated use case is for transactions operating exclusively on public, permissionless, blockchains: such exchanges eliminate the need for trusted intermediaries and seem to permit parties to commit ex ante to automated performance. But public transactional scripts are costly both to develop and execute, with significant fees imposed for data storage ...


(Un)Corporate Crypto-Governance, Carla Reyes Jan 2020

(Un)Corporate Crypto-Governance, Carla Reyes

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Public blockchain protocols face a serious governance crisis. Thus far, blockchain protocols have followed the path of early Internet governance. If the architects of blockchain protocols are not careful, they may suffer a similar fate — increasing governmental control, greater centralization, and decreasing privacy. As blockchain architects begin to consider better governance structures, there is a legal movement underway to impose a fiduciary framework upon open source software developers. If the movement succeeds, the consequences for open source software development could be dire. If arbitrarily imposed upon blockchain communities without consideration of variances among communities or the reality of how such ...


Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This article studies the impact of exogenous legal change on whether and how lawyers across four different deal types revise their contracts’ governing law clauses in order to solve the problem that the legal change created. The governing law clause is present in practically every contract across a wide range of industries and, in particular, it appears in deals as disparate as private equity M&A transactions and sovereign bond issuances. Properly drafted, the clause increases the ex ante economic value of the contract to both parties by reducing uncertainty and litigation risk. We posit that different levels of agency ...


Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2020

Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The textbook model of commercial contracts between sophisticated parties holds that terms are proposed, negotiated and ultimately priced by the parties. Parties reach agreement on contract provisions that best suit their transaction with the goal of maximizing the joint surplus from the contract. The reality, of course, is that the majority of the provisions in contemporary commercial contracts are boilerplate terms derived from prior transactions and even the most sophisticated contracting parties pay little attention to these standard terms, focusing instead on the price of the transaction. With standard-form or boilerplate contracts, this dynamic of replicating by rote the terms ...


Carrying A Good Joke Too Far, Peter A. Alces, Jason M. Hopkins Sep 2019

Carrying A Good Joke Too Far, Peter A. Alces, Jason M. Hopkins

Peter A. Alces

No abstract provided.


Law And The Blockchain, Usha Rodrigues Jan 2018

Law And The Blockchain, Usha Rodrigues

Scholarly Works

All contracts are necessarily incomplete. The inefficiencies of bargaining over every contingency, coupled with humans’ innate bounded rationality, mean that contracts cannot anticipate and address every potential eventuality. One role of law is to fill gaps in incomplete contracts with default rules. The blockchain is a distributed ledger that allows the cryptographic recording of transactions and permits “smart” contracts that self-execute automatically if their conditions are met. Because humans code the contracts of the blockchain, gaps in these contracts will arise. Yet in the world of “smart contracting” on the blockchain, there is no place for the law to step ...


The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal Jan 2018

The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal

Articles

There has been an explosion in new types of startup finance instruments. Whereas twenty years ago preferred stock dominated the field, startup companies and investors now use at least eight different instruments—six of which have only become widely used in the last decade. Legal scholars have yet to reflect upon the proliferation of instrument types in the aggregate. Notably missing is a way to organize instruments into a common framework that highlights their similarities and differences.

This Article makes four contributions. First, it catalogues the variety of startup investment forms. I describe novel instruments, such as revenue-based financing, which ...


The Price Of Law: The Case Of The Eurozone's Collective Action Clauses, Elena Carletti, Paolo Colla, Mitu Gulati, Steven Ongena Jan 2018

The Price Of Law: The Case Of The Eurozone's Collective Action Clauses, Elena Carletti, Paolo Colla, Mitu Gulati, Steven Ongena

Faculty Scholarship

Do markets value contract protections? And does the quality of a legal system affect such valuations? To answer these questions we exploit a unique experiment whereby, after January 1, 2013, newly issued sovereign bonds of Eurozone countries under domestic law had to include Collective Action Clauses (CACs) specifying the minimum vote needed to modify payment terms. We find that CAC bonds trade at lower yields than otherwise similar no-CAC bonds; and that the quality of the legal system matters for this differential. Hence, markets appear to see CACs as providing protection against the legal risk embedded in domestic-law sovereign bonds.


Who Needs Contracts? Generalized Exchange Within Investment Accelerators, Brad Bernthal Jan 2017

Who Needs Contracts? Generalized Exchange Within Investment Accelerators, Brad Bernthal

Articles

This Article investigates why an expert volunteers on behalf of startups that participate in a novel type of small venture capital (“VC”) fund known as a mentor-driven investment accelerator (“MDIA”). A MDIA organizes a pool of seasoned individuals – called “mentors” – to help new companies. An obvi- ous organizational strategy would be to contract with mentors. Mentors in- stead voluntarily assist. Legal studies of norm-based exchanges do not explain what this Article calls the “mentorship conundrum”—i.e., the puzzling moti- vation of a mentor to volunteer within otherwise for-profit environments. This Article is the first to bridge the insights of ...


Sovereign Debt And The “Contracts Matter” Hypothesis, W. Mark C. Weidemaier, Mitu Gulati Jan 2017

Sovereign Debt And The “Contracts Matter” Hypothesis, W. Mark C. Weidemaier, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The academic literature on sovereign debt largely assumes that law has little role to play. Indeed, the primary question addressed by the literature is why sovereigns repay at all given the irrelevance of legal enforcement. But if law, and specifically contract law, does not matter, how to explain the fact that sovereign loans involve detailed contracts, expensive lawyers, and frequent litigation? This Essay makes the case that contract design matters even in a world where sovereign borrowers are hard (but not impossible) to sue. We identify a number of gaps in the research that warrant further investigation.


The Puzzle Of Pdvsa Bond Prices, Anna Gelpern, Paolo Colla, Mitu Gulati Aug 2016

The Puzzle Of Pdvsa Bond Prices, Anna Gelpern, Paolo Colla, Mitu Gulati

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Market reports in the summer of 2016 suggest that Venezuela is on the brink of default on upwards of $65 billion in debt. That debt comprises of bonds issued directly by the sovereign and those issued by the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Based on the bond contracts and other legal factors, it is not clear which of these two categories of bonds would fare better in the event of a restructuring. However, market observers are convinced — and we agree — that legal and contractual differences would likely impact the payouts on the bonds if Venezuela defaults. Using a comparison of recent ...


Apple Pay, Bitcoin, And Consumers: The Abcs Of Future Public Payments Law, Mark Edwin Burge Jul 2016

Apple Pay, Bitcoin, And Consumers: The Abcs Of Future Public Payments Law, Mark Edwin Burge

Mark Edwin Burge

As technology rolls out ongoing and competing streams of payments innovation, exemplified by Apple Pay (mobile payments) and Bitcoin (cryptocurrency), the law governing these payments appears hopelessly behind the curve. The patchwork of state, federal, and private legal rules seems more worthy of condemnation than emulation. This Article argues, however, that the legal and market developments of the last several decades in payment systems provide compelling evidence of the most realistic and socially beneficial future for payments law. The paradigm of a comprehensive public law regulatory scheme for payment systems - exemplified by Articles 3 and 4 of the Uniform Commercial ...


The Customer's Nonwaivable Right To Choose Arbitration In The Securities Industry, Jill I. Gross Jan 2016

The Customer's Nonwaivable Right To Choose Arbitration In The Securities Industry, Jill I. Gross

Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law

Arbitration has been the predominant form of dispute resolution in the securities industry since the 1980s. Virtually all brokerage firms include predispute arbitration agreements (PDAAs) in their retail customer contracts, and have successfully fought off challenges to their validity. Additionally, the industry has long mandated that firms submit to arbitration at the demand of a customer, even in the absence of a PDAA.

More recently, however, brokerage firms have been arguing that forum selection clauses in their agreements with sophisticated customers (such as institutional investors and issuers) supersede firms’ duty to arbitrate under FINRA Rule 12200. Circuit courts currently are ...


Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr Oct 2015

Mandatory Arbitration In Consumer Finance And Investor Contracts, Michael S. Barr

Articles

Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses are pervasive in consumer financial and investor contracts—for credit cards, bank accounts, auto loans, broker-dealer services, and many others. These clauses often ill serve households. Consumers are typically presented with contracts on a “take it or leave it” basis, with no ability to negotiate over terms. Arbitration provisions are often not clearly disclosed, and in any event are not salient for consumers, who do not focus on the importance of the provision in the event that a dispute over the contract later arises, and who may misforecast the likelihood of being in such a dispute ...


An Approach To The Regulation Of Spanish Banking Foundations, Miguel Martínez Jun 2015

An Approach To The Regulation Of Spanish Banking Foundations, Miguel Martínez

Miguel Martínez

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the legal framework governing banking foundations as they have been regulated by Spanish Act 26/2013, of December 27th, on savings banks and banking foundations. Title 2 of this regulation addresses a construct that is groundbreaking for the Spanish legal system, still of paramount importance for the entire financial system insofar as these foundations become the leading players behind certain banking institutions given the high interest that foundations hold in the share capital of such institutions.


Avenues To Foreign Investment In China’S Shipping Industry—Have Lease Financing Arrangements And The Free Trade Zones Opened Markets For Foreign Non-Bank Investment?, Rick Beaumont May 2015

Avenues To Foreign Investment In China’S Shipping Industry—Have Lease Financing Arrangements And The Free Trade Zones Opened Markets For Foreign Non-Bank Investment?, Rick Beaumont

Rick Beaumont

No abstract provided.


Recovery Of Damages For Lost Profits: The Historical Development, Robert Lloyd, Nicholas Chase Mar 2015

Recovery Of Damages For Lost Profits: The Historical Development, Robert Lloyd, Nicholas Chase

Robert M Lloyd

ABSTRACT Recovery of Damages for Lost Profits: The Historical Development The rule of Hadley v. Baxendale is widely considered the most important rule of contract damages. In fact, however, the rule that damages must be proven with reasonable certainty is far more important in the modern practice of law. The reasonable certainty rule originated in Roman law and came to the common law through the civil law of Western Europe, developing first in the United States and spreading from the United States to England. The rule of Hadley v. Baxendale developed much in the same way, and, contrary to popular ...


“Whimsy Little Contracts” With Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis Of Consumer Understanding Of Arbitration Agreements, Jeff Sovern Feb 2015

“Whimsy Little Contracts” With Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis Of Consumer Understanding Of Arbitration Agreements, Jeff Sovern

Jeff Sovern

Arbitration clauses have become ubiquitous in consumer contracts. These arbitration clauses require consumers to waive the constitutional right to a civil jury, access to court, and, increasingly, the procedural remedy of class representation. Because those rights cannot be divested without consent, the validity of arbitration agreements rests on the premise of consent. Consumers who do not want to arbitrate or waive their class rights can simply decline to purchase the products or services covered by an arbitration agreement. But the premise of consent is undermined if consumers do not understand the effect on their procedural rights of clicking a box ...


The Relevance Of Law To Sovereign Debt, W. Mark C. Weidemaier, Mitu Gulati Jan 2015

The Relevance Of Law To Sovereign Debt, W. Mark C. Weidemaier, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The literature on sovereign debt treats law as of marginal significance, largely because the doctrine of sovereign immunity leaves creditors few potent legal remedies against sovereign borrowers. Although sovereign debts can indeed by hard to enforce, the goal of this Essay is to demonstrate that law plays a central, and constantly evolving, role in structuring sovereign debt markets. To list just a few examples, legal rules and institutions (i) decide when a borrower is sovereign, (ii) define the consequences of sovereignty by drawing (or refusing to draw) artificial boundaries between the sovereign and other legal entities, (iii) play some role ...


Dirty Debts Sold Dirt Cheap, Dalie Jimenez Dec 2014

Dirty Debts Sold Dirt Cheap, Dalie Jimenez

Dalie Jimenez

More than 77 million Americans have a debt in collections. Many of these debts will be sold to debt buyers for pennies, or fractions of pennies, on the dollar. This Article details the perilous path that debts travel as they move through the collection ecosystem. Using a unique dataset of 84 consumer debt purchase and sale agreement, it examines the manner in which debts are sold, oftentimes as simple data on a spreadsheet, devoid of any documentary evidence. It finds that in many contracts, sellers disclaim all warranties about the underlying debts sold or the information transferred. Sellers also sometimes ...


Demand Promissory Notes And Commercial Loans: Balancing Freedom Of Contract & Good Faith, George A. Nation Iii Nov 2014

Demand Promissory Notes And Commercial Loans: Balancing Freedom Of Contract & Good Faith, George A. Nation Iii

George A Nation III

Promissory notes are ubiquitous in commercial lending. The promissory note represents the borrowers promise to repay and is governed by the Uniform Commercial Code’s Article 3. Under Article 3, promissory notes are either demand instruments or time instruments. In general, the holder of a demand instrument may decide to demand payment at any time and for any reason, while the holder of a time note must wait for payment until the arrival of the specific repayment date or dates included in the note. For this reason, time notes usually contain an acceleration clause. An acceleration clause allows the holder ...


Boilerplate Shock, Gregory Shill Jan 2014

Boilerplate Shock, Gregory Shill

Gregory Shill

No nation was spared in the recent global downturn, but several countries in the Eurozone arguably took the hardest punch, and they are still down. Doubts about the solvency of Greece, Spain, and a number of their neighbors are increasing the likelihood of a breakup of the common European currency. Observers believe a single departure and sovereign debt default might set off a “bank run” on the euro, with devastating regional and global consequences.

What mechanisms are available to address—or ideally, to prevent—such a disaster?

One unlikely candidate is boilerplate language in the contracts that govern Eurozone sovereign ...


From Pigs To Hogs, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati Jan 2014

From Pigs To Hogs, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The question of whether, and to what extent, markets price contract terms in government bond issues has been one of considerable debate in the literature. We use a natural experiment thrown up by the Euro area sovereign debt crisis of 2010-2013 to test whether a particular set of contract terms – ones that gave an advantage to sovereign guaranteed bonds over garden variety sovereign bonds – was priced. These contract terms turned out to be important for the holders of guaranteed bonds during the Greek debt restructuring of 2012, where they helped the holders of guaranteed bonds escape the haircut that other ...


Indiana Jones, Contracts Originalist, W. Mark C. Weidemaier Dec 2013

Indiana Jones, Contracts Originalist, W. Mark C. Weidemaier

W. Mark C. Weidemaier

The process of drafting a contract can be routine, almost automated. Over a long enough time, lawyers may stop paying attention to contract language or even forget why it is there. The problem is acute with standard-form contracts and perhaps especially so with financial contracts such as sovereign bonds. How should courts interpret contract language when neither the parties, nor their lawyers, nor any other relevant player in the market can credibly explain what it does? This essay addresses this question in the context of one of the most contested interpretive questions in modern international finance: the meaning of the ...


Gambling On Our Financial Future: How The Federal Government Fiddles While State Common Law Is A Safer Bet To Prevent Another Financial Collapse, Brian M. Mccall Dec 2013

Gambling On Our Financial Future: How The Federal Government Fiddles While State Common Law Is A Safer Bet To Prevent Another Financial Collapse, Brian M. Mccall

Brian M McCall

Many politicians and commentators agree that credit default swaps (CDS) played a significant role in the financial crisis of 2008. Yet, few who observe this role are aware that CDS were set loose on the economy by the federal pre-emption of thousands of years of public policy. Since the time of Aristotle law, philosophy and public policy have been hostile to gambling. Viewed as a socially unproductive zero sum wealth transfer, the law has generally refused to permit parties to use the courts to enforce wagers. Courts and legislatures worked in harmony to control and in some cases punish financial ...


Book Review: The Three And A Half Minute Transaction: What Sticky Boilerplate Reveals About Contract Law And Practice, Andrea J. Boyack Jul 2013

Book Review: The Three And A Half Minute Transaction: What Sticky Boilerplate Reveals About Contract Law And Practice, Andrea J. Boyack

Andrea J Boyack

This review situates Gulati & Scott’s findings with respect to sovereign debt instruments and the contracting process in the context of a legal profession on the brink of change. Gulati and Scott’s book addresses the inexplicable failure of lawyers to respond to a sovereign debt litigation outcome by clarifying a boilerplate provision after an adverse judicial interpretation. Their fascinating study of boilerplate in sophisticated transactional legal practice is timely and compelling both in terms of the specific story it tells, namely the persistence of the pari passu clause in sovereign debt instruments, as well as its broader implications: Structural ...


Rebalancing Public And Private In The Law Of Mortgage Transfer, John P. Hunt Feb 2013

Rebalancing Public And Private In The Law Of Mortgage Transfer, John P. Hunt

John P Hunt

The law governing the United States’ $13 trillion mortgage market is broken. Courts and legislatures around the country continue to struggle with the fallout from the effort to build a 21st century global market in mortgages on a fragmented, arguably archaic legal foundation. These authorities’ struggles stem in large part from the lack of clarity about the legal requirements for mortgage transfer, the key process for contemporary mortgage finance.

We demonstrate two respects in which American mortgage transfer law is unclear and offer suggestions for fixing it. Revisions to the Uniform Commercial Code adopted around the turn of the century ...


Rise Of The Intercontinentalexchange And Implications Of Its Merger With Nyse Euronext, Latoya C. Brown Jan 2013

Rise Of The Intercontinentalexchange And Implications Of Its Merger With Nyse Euronext, Latoya C. Brown

Latoya C. Brown, Esq.

This paper examines the impending merger between the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) and NYSE Euronext against the backdrop of the current structure of the global financial services industry. The paper concludes that the merger embodies what the financial services industry is becoming and captures the model that will allow exchanges to remain competitive in today’s marketplace: mega-exchanges with broader asset classes and electronic platforms. As technology and globalization threaten their vitality, exchanges will need to continue reinventing and adapting. Increasingly over the last decade they have done so by merging and by moving, at least a part of, their operations on ...


Index Theory: The Law, Promise, And Failure Of Financial Indices, Andrew Verstein Jan 2013

Index Theory: The Law, Promise, And Failure Of Financial Indices, Andrew Verstein

Lecturer and Other Affiliate Scholarship Series

Financial indices, like the S&P 500 or the Consumer Price Index, have become a ubiquitous feature of our financial markets. One index, the London InterBank Offered Rate ("Libor"), may be the world’s most important number, an interest rate benchmark upon which hundreds of trillions of dollars depend. Yet, almost every day new revelations emerge that Libor was tampered with during the height of the financial crisis by one or many of the world's most prominent banks, with billions of dollars potentially misappropriated. This index disruption has attracted tremendous interest from regulators, private litigants, and market observers. Despite ...