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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...