This interesting article the the Law Society Gazette considers a practical application of blockchain which could radically change the world of contracts. Smart contracts can self-fulfil, removing the need for a lawyers' involvement in executing a contract or confirming a condition has been met. But we are of course a long way off them replacing a lawyer's role in negotiation. It's a helpful, relatively jargon-free article!
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Smart contracts are self-executing packages of computer code where the terms between the parties have been directly written into the coding. The code and the agreements contained therein exist across the decentralised blockchain network. Such contracts permit trusted transactions to be carried out among disparate, anonymous parties without the need for a central authority, legal system or external enforcement mechanism. They render transactions traceable, transparent and largely irreversible, absent a change to the underlying rules of that blockchain.