Following the publication of the UKJT’s Legal Statement on cryptoassets and smart contracts in November 2019, the Government asked the Law Commission to undertake a scoping study into the law on smart contracts. Under the terms of reference agreed between the Law Commission and the Government, the scoping study will analyse the current law as it applies to smart contracts, identify areas in which further work or reform may be required, and provide such advice as the Law Commission considers appropriate on options for reform. 

During recent months the Law Commission have been meeting with a range of law firms (including Baker McKenzie), academics and other organisations with respect to this project. The Law Commission have now published a formal call for evidence on smart contracts.

The call for evidence is the first step in the smart contracts scoping study. Its primary function is to seek views about, and evidence of, the ways in which smart contracts are being used, and the extent to which the existing law can accommodate them.

The call for evidence covers the following topics:

  • What is a smart contract?
  • Formation of smart contracts
  • Interpretation of smart contracts
  • Remedies and smart contracts
  • Consumers and smart contracts
  • Jurisdiction

For each topic, the Commission have set out their current understanding of the law and practice, and asked consultees for their views. They have not made any proposals for law reform in the call for evidence.

For the purposes of the call for evidence the Law Commission defines a smart contract as "a legally binding contract in which some or all of the contractual obligations are recorded in or performed automatically by a computer program deployed on a distributed ledger". 

The call for evidence closes on 31 March 2021.