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Book review: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

Joseph Savirimuthu, “Book review: Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code”, (2019) 16:1 SCRIPTed 95 DOI: 10.2966/scrip.160119.95. Download PDF

“Blockchains, distributed ledger technologies, bitcoins and peer-to-peer networks have reignited old debates and arguments about the implications of decentralisation for social, economic and political ordering. Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code sets out to map the landscape of this technology that enables its readers to assess the opportunities and regulatory challenges. The coverage is impressive, well-researched and key issues are examined and analysed with rigor and clarity. This book will appeal to technology and innovation scholars, policymakers and lawyers. It is also likely to be suitable for academic and policy programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The book is well-structured with an overriding goal – to define and explain the rationale and goals of the law in seeking to regulate the technology. As observers of the innovation opportunities and challenges will attest, the quest to formulate optimal strategies is complex and far from straightforward. It is a point that needs to be kept in mind that Blockchain and the Law will not resolve ongoing arguments about the mismatch between technological innovation and the ability of law to keep pace. The book is structured with five Parts, beginning with an account of the characteristics of blockchain technology (Part 1) before proceeding to examine financial and contractual instruments (Part 2), security standards and protocols (Part 3), the institutional and organizational infrastructure (Part 4) and governance (Part 5). Whether the regulatory responses to blockchains will culminate in a lex cryptographica is merely a springboard for an examination of how the problems of associated with the automated and decentralised architecture are to be mitigated. For those with long memories of peer-to-peer file sharing services in the 1990s and 2000, one may need to be more circumspect about whether the distinctive decentralised software infrastructure upon which blockchain applications sit, will succeed in creating “order without law” (p. 5).

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