Is Implementation of Blockchain Smart Contracts Boon for Legal Practitioners?

31 Jul

The legal profession existed for quite some time and has its foundation on history, tradition, and numerous case laws filled up in the libraries around the world.

Just like every other profession, the legal profession has also evolved, and presently, experts who specialized in contracts are in a constant argument over disputes, which might soon be forgotten, as the world seems to embrace blockchain.

Blockchain for Smart contracts are a set of computer codes that enable, authenticate, and carry out contracts’ terms. Smart contracts have existed for a while but in a limited manner. The smart contract has been used in a vending machine, housing sector (mortgage), and commodities markets. Blockchain has facilitated the use of smart contracts beyond the usage mentioned earlier and can be used in a whole lot of industries/sectors, and its usage has gone conventional because of the immutability, security, and visibility of blockchain.

Smart Contract? I do not know what this means.

A contract can be defined as an agreement between parties or people, which is formal and legal binding. The agreement can be made via emails, verbal conversations, thumbprints, signature, and punching or clicking on the “I Agree” button or link at the end of a document. For a contract to be supported or defended in a court of law, the agreement must be in line with the law. More reason you can see human smugglers or drug bandits in court safe they instead they should to be judged for a crime.

Blockchain is a technology that uses cryptography to create, secure, immutable transactions that are recorded on an electronic ledger. Smart contract utilizes blockchain technology to document parties (individuals) and the amounts of transactions carried out as well as self-executes the contract terms and conditions.

A smart contract is a set of code that carries out the terms of contracts by itself. The petition of smart contract now is that it runs on a decentralized blockchain. Smart contracts enable transactions to occur clearly and reliably and do not require intermediaries.

Because of the above characteristics of smart contracts stated above, some spectators have projected that smart contracts will substitute the conventional arrangements, thus eliminating the necessity of lawyers. This brings us back to our initial question, is Implementation of Blockchain Smart Contracts Boon for Legal Practitioners? To discourse this question, it is expedient to have a comprehensible and exact definition of smart contracts. People can easily confuse smart contracts because smart contracts can have different feasible implementations depending on the context. Some advocates of smart contracts equate code to lawyers; therefore, lawyers will no longer be needed unless they are software engineers or programmers. Some other advocates see smart contracts as codes only, which can ensure the execution of a legal agreement, whether or no written documents. Majority of the smart contracts you might have come across presently are more of codes than law.

The limitations of smart contracts as legal agreements
 


At least for now, it is improbable that pieces of code are the same as law. There are many legal issues and realistic inadequacies springing up because smart contracts are in codes that cannot be read and understood by everybody in place of the human language.

Presently, smart contracts identify parties involved exclusively on public addresses and their owners. In spite of this, a smart contract is inadequate because of two reasons. First things first, the public address in a smart contract can point towards one more smart contracts in place of a wallet with a finite owner. This information cannot be determined from a public address solitarily because the wallet of a public address is difficult to differentiate from the public address of a smart contract. Again, it is feasible for a smart contract to also partake in another smart contract transaction.

Besides, peradventure the public address is owned by a wallet, the owner of the particular wallet remains ‘fictitious’ and cannot be detected from the public address since it cannot be ascertained from the public address itself devoid of irrelevant evidence. For this reason, at this time, it appears unachievable to recognize the legal individuals who are participants to a contract grounded on the public addresses found in solely in a smart contract.

Are lawyers now irrelevant?

There are some uncomplicated transactions in which you do not need a lawyer; apparently, there will still be no need for you to hire a lawyer to execute those simple transactions. Nevertheless, the application of blockchain may decrease the need for hiring a lawyer to solve post-contract challenges such as no payment, etc. Smart contracts may diminish the necessity for litigators, whereas turn out to be an essential skill for a transactional lawyer to learn.

Written contracts are lawful (legal) documents even though you are free to write them, writing for other parties implies you are practicing law without a license- this itself is illegal. No doubt, that smart contracts will undoubtedly have an impact on lawyers and the practice of law, smart contracts will not immediately eradicate lawyers.

Conclusion

Smart contracts possibly will alter how lawyers work within and amidst firms. Some observers have gone to the extreme of saying that lawyers will need to learn how to write pieces of code for a smart contract. The probability of this happening is rather slim. The feasible scenario is the development of products and services that will permit lawyers to incorporate smart contracts into their profession and do not need to understand the technicalities involved in writing codes. An excellent example of this is OpenLaw. OpenLaw is out to assist legal practitioners when it comes to the negotiation and possible execution of legal agreements. Not only that, but it will also help lawyers to incorporate smart contracts to computerize specific areas of written contracts.

Smart contracts are one of the many technologies that will bring us a step closer to eradicating or drastically reducing the use of lawyers in the nearest future.