“Smarter contracts, blockchain technology and digital assets are transforming business processes across commercial, legal and financial sectors. The 2020s is the digital decade. Everyone will need to improve their understanding of these crucial technologies and how the law supports their utilisation.”
Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls
Our focus is on legally binding digital contracts that are smarter and better than conventional contracts.
By digital contract we mean a legal agreement in a digital format, as contrasted with a conventional contract in a static Word-processed format. A digital contract is machine readable. A Word document is not.
This includes ‘smart legal contracts’ by which we mean legally enforceable contracts where some (or all) of the natural language terms are represented by machine readable code. They are a subset of digital contracts. But we are not talking about ‘smart contracts’ that are simply coded persistent scripts rather than being a contract in the legal sense.
Smarter contracts are about applying technology to the contractual process - to a greater or lesser extent. This ranges from simple applications like electronic signatures all the way through to sophisticated ‘self-executing’ contracts.
Smarter contracts are already changing the way we live and work for the better.
LawtechUK's Smarter Contracts project has identified important examples of how technology is transforming contracts used across key industries and sectors.
The case studies demonstrate digital-first solutions to real-world problems: electronic signatures, contract automation and management, insurance, renewable energy, financial services, trade, sale of goods and services, logistics and transportation, the digital representation and ownership of physical assets, sport sponsorship, and home buying and selling.
The digital company case study explores additional opportunities that smarter contracts offer companies and institutions to unlock the benefits of a digital economy that are not available when using traditional corporate forms.
The UK's position
English law and the UK jurisdictions provide a strong legal foundation for the mainstream use of smarter contracts. LawtechUK’s UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT) has previously shown the way with its Legal Statement on Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts and its Digital Dispute Resolution Rules. The Law Commission’s advice on smart contracts built on the conclusions reached by the UKJT, with several related Law Commission projects underway that will further support the use of smarter contracts and advance the UK as a global leader for technological innovation.
Technical foundations to support the digitisation of commercial and legal documents are also being developed through initiatives such as the UK Legal Schema.
UKJT Legal Statement on Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts
UKJT Digital Dispute Resolution Rules
Law Commission Projects
UK Legal Schema
Courses and Resources
LawtechUK has created short courses and collated key resources for you to explore at your own pace to deepen your understanding of smarter contracts and digital assets.
LawtechUK Smart Contracts Course
LawtechUK Distributed Ledger (Blockchain) Technology Course
Events And Insights
Functional Application of Smart Legal Contracts Paper by Hunit
Hunit publishes a detailed paper exploring the practicalities of applying smart legal contracts in today’s legal sector.
Contracts, Just Smarter - Event Reply
LawtechUK brought together people from across sectors and professions at its ‘Contracts, just smarter’ event in London and online.
SCL In-House Lawyers' event
LawtechUK, the Law Commission and 3 Verulam Buildings talked to the Society for Computers and Law In-House Lawyers’ Group about...
LawtechUK industry roundtable
Discover the learnings from our digital and smart contracts industry roundtable.
Sharing our insights from industry as we look to bring the benefits of smarter contracting to life through practical use cases.
Thank you for your interest in the Open Legal Data project.
The LawtechUK team will be in touch with you shortly.
Thank you for signing up for LawtechUK news and updates
You will now be notified of all our latest updates.