This paper examines the intersection of blockchain and the law. Our analysis begins with an overview of legal issues as they pertain to blockchain technology per se, and in particular issues that arise due to the decentralised nature of many blockchain-based platforms. We follow this with a look at the legal implications of different kinds of smart contracts. These include smart legal contracts, which are smart contracts on a blockchain that represent – or that would like to represent – a legal contract as well as smart contracts with with legal implications, which are artefacts/constructs based on smart technology that clearly have legal implications, for instance in the form of digital assets, or decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) or other kinds of autonomous agents..
These issues are extremely important at the moment – of keen interest to the European blockchain industry as well as policy makers looking to cement Europe’s position as an attractive location for this promising new technology. If blockchain will indeed become the catalyst for innovation, jobs and economic growth in the EU that many hope, then there is no doubt that a key element will be a predictable legal and regulatory framework for blockchains and smart contracts.