Blockchain is a tool. Samson Williams likens blockchain to a group text message, in which each participant receives a distributed, time-stamped, tamper-resistant (and encrypted) record of data transactions. Each group text has these characteristics. Everyone in the group “sees” the data, and none can change or gainsay any group message. Smart contracts are computer code put on the blockchain (how, exactly?) that establishes self-executing terms and conditions of a transaction. Are smart contracts smart? If certain data comes in and fulfills a pre-set term or condition, then rights and responsibilities are formed, terminated, modified, or shifted among the parties. Ah certainty and transparency, but also ah garbage in and garbage out. Are some contractual terms not amenable to smart contracting? And are smart contracts necessarily contracts? If not, can they still be useful? If a smart contract is a contract, what is the governing document? Is it the words business people and lawyers use, or is it the code that is supposed to reflect the words?
Mr. Cahill is partner at Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Helsinger LLP, in Chicago, Illinois. He guides secured lenders, creditors, debtors, creditors’ committees, potential purchasers and others through bankruptcy cases, out-of-court workouts,… Read More
Clayton Lowery is a Senior Consultant in Armanino’s Blockchain practice. He provides subject matter expertise to the traditional accounting firm service lines, develops custom blockchain and digital asset solutions for… Read More
Maureen L. Murat is an Assistant General Counsel with the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking where she provides legal advice and guidance on regulatory matters relating to banking,… Read More