Please note a lawyer did not write this, nor did a coder, and it is not meant to be legal advice but a simple overview of the legality and enforceability of a smart contract.
Smart contracts are written in code (which lives on the blockchain), and their execution is based on predefined rules. However, legal disputes may arise due to ambiguities or unforeseen circumstances not explicitly covered in the code. Courts may need to interpret the intent of the parties or apply existing legal principles to resolve disputes, which can create challenges in reconciling code-based execution with legal interpretation.
Since smart contracts operate on blockchain networks that are decentralized and borderless, the issue of jurisdiction can be complex. Legal systems differ across jurisdictions, and the enforceability of smart contracts may vary. Determining the applicable jurisdiction and resolving disputes can be challenging, especially when parties involved are in different countries with conflicting laws.
While smart contracts automate the execution of agreements, they may not encompass all aspects of a contractual relationship. There could be offline interactions or external events that impact contractual obligations, such as force majeure events or unforeseen circumstances. These factors may require legal intervention beyond the scope of the smart contract.
Smart contracts may rely on external data sources (known as oracles) to execute certain conditions or trigger events. The reliability and accuracy of these oracles can be a legal consideration, as they may introduce vulnerabilities or potential points of manipulation. Parties may need to address how they handle disputes arising from inaccurate or tampered external data.
Currently, any contract with parties in multiple jurisdictions is subject to a few factors that influence the choice of jurisdiction. The same thing applies to a smart contract.
"Smart Contracts: Bridging the Gap Between Contract Law and Distributed Ledger Technology" by the European Parliament:
"Smart Contracts Explained: What They Are and How They Work" by CoinMarketCap
"The Promise of Smart Contracts in Business Applications" by Harvard Business Review
"Blockchain Basics: Smart Contracts" by MIT Technology Review
"Smart Contracts and Legal Contracts – Are They a Good Fit?" by the European Legal Studies Institute
"Smart Contracts and Dispute Resolution: A New Frontier" by International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution
"Blockchain Governance: Programming Our Future" by World Economic Forum