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[Lecture Series HS20] Smart Contracts on Distributed Ledger: The End of Property?


Prof. Dr. Stefan Bechtold (ETH)


Smart contracts and blockchain systems have put unprecedented powers in the hands of private parties, allowing them to create self-enforcing agreements that effectively bind third parties and run with assets. These technologies have the potential to create “super-property rights” that mimic many features of property while benefiting from the flexibility of contract law. This has not only blurred the line between contract and property. It has also raised skepticism about whether property as we know it may become futile in the brave new world of smart contracts. Why do we need property law if parties can create synthetic property rights through contract? In this Essay, we explore the contours and limits of this argument. We show how these technologies could be used to forge rights that go well beyond what property law can offer. But we also point to various key functions property law will continue to fulfill in a world of super-property rights enabled by smart contracts on a blockchain. In the end, while these technologies may not adumbrate the death of property, they will fundamentally alter the way we think about property law in the future.


Tuesday, 19th Jan. 2021


Online Lecture

Via Zoom

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 Prof. Dr. Stefan Bechtold

Stefan Bechtold is Professor of Intellectual Property and Head of the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He is a graduate of the University of Tübingen School of Law, Germany, and of Stanford Law School (JSM 2002). He was a Visiting Professor at New York University School of Law and the University of Haifa, a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, and spent research visits in Amsterdam, Berkeley, Chicago, Munich, and Singapore. Stefan Bechtold is a member of the foundation board of the Study Center Gerzensee (a foundation of the Swiss National Bank), where he is involved in the organization of law & economics courses for doctoral students.


Time Speaker Event Title Presentations
18:00 -18:05Welcome & Introduction
18:05 -19:00Prof. Dr. Stefan BechtoldSmart Contracts on Distributed Ledger: The End of Property?Download
19:00 -19:30Q&A
19:30 -20:00End (Apéro)