Blockchain-based smart contracts: the death of contract law?


Smart contracts are on vogue right now. The term ‘smart contract’ is used to refer to a software programme which is regularly built on blockchain technology as a set of promises, specified in a digital form, including protocols within which the parties perform on these promises. They are in principle self-enforcing and self-executing (upon a trigger event) and these are the two features which make them so interesting for practice, but also troublesome legally. Therefore, this course aims to do the following: (1) giving a definition of what smart contracts actually are, (2) explaining how blockchain-based smart contracts work, (3) providing some practical examples, (4) comparing traditional contracts and smart contracts, (5) and ultimately discussing some legal hot topics about smart contracts (eg. whether they are the end of contract law as we know it, etc.).

It has continuously been pointed out that smart contracts are neither contracts in the traditional sense nor that they are smart and that, consequently, the term ‘smart contract’ itself is a misnomer.


André Janssen

André Janssen is a chair professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. André Janssen is respectively was a visiting scholar/professor at the Universities of Leuven, Oxford, Turin, Verona, and at the Chinese University for Political Science and Law in Beijing and at the City University Hong Kong. He taught and presented at international conferences on five continents, is a member of several international research networks and published more than 150 books and articles in the field of Private, European, Comparative and International Sales Law, and Artificial Intelligence and Law. He is the co-chief-editor of the European Review of Private Law (ERPL) and a member of the editorial board of the International Arbitration Law Review (IALR).

Andre Janssen speaker