On 6-7 May 2019, UNIDROIT hosted a Joint Workshop, co-organised by sister organisation UNCITRAL, on the legal issues arising from the use of Smart Contracts, Artificial Intelligence and Distributed Ledger Technology.
UNIDROIT and UNCITRAL , under the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, joined forces to explore possible areas of cooperation and include in their mandate the elaboration of legal instruments in the field of Distributed Ledger Technology, Smart Contracts and Artificial Intelligence, upon specific request of their membership. To this end, the two organisations called upon experts to aid them in identifying areas and topics which would benefit from future legal instruments, as well as the types of instruments that would be most beneficial. The Workshop opened with an address delivered by Mr Pasquale Velotti (Deputy Head of the Service for Legal Affairs, Diplomatic Disputes and International Agreements, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), and Introductory remarks delivered by Ms Anna Joubin-Bret (Secretary, UNCITRAL) and Professor Ignacio Tirado (Secretary-General, UNIDROIT), and the six panels that followed were chaired by Professor Henry Gabriel (UNIDROIT Governing Council member, Elon University), Professor Charles Mooney (University of Pennsylvania), Professor Giusella Finocchiaro (University of Bologna), Professor Louise Gullifer (University of Oxford), Professor Teresa Rodríguez de las Heras (Universidad Carlos III Madrid), Professor Hideki Kanda (UNIDROIT Governing Council member, Gakushuin University).
The panels were respectively designed to: discuss and agree upon (to the extent possible) the main concepts and definitions (Panel I); help understand the adequate scope of work (Panel II); specific operations and how DLT, smart contracts and AI would fit in the realm of traditional contract law (Panel III); the call for harmonisation within the particular business usages of DLT and Smart Contracts (Panel IV); the impact of digital emerging technologies on the legacy liability regimes (Panel V); and draw conclusions and summarise the findings of each prior panel and present them in a form that could be taken into consideration by the UNIDROIT Governing Council and by UNCITRAL (Panel V).