An Introduction to Smart Contracts

Year 2018
Author Stuart D. Levi and Alex B. Lipton, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Publisher Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
Link View Research Paper


Access a thorough introduction to smart contracts and an assessment of their potential and inherent limitations. This introduction from the Harvard Law School Forum outlines:

  • How they function
  • The historical background of their creation and use
  • How they interplay with traditional text agreements
  • Questions around how enforceable smart contracts are
  • Challenges with adoption
  • How they guarantee payment
  • Governing laws and venues

The authors of this paper also make an informed conclusion regarding the future of smart contracts. Although they will need to evolve before they are widely adopted for production use in complex commercial relationships, they have the impact to revolutionise the reward and incentive structure that shapes how parties contract in the future. To that end, and when thinking about smart contracts, it is important not to simply think how existing concepts and structures can be ported over to this new technology. Rather, the true revolution will come from entirely new paradigms that we have not yet envisioned.