Should the industry be thinking smarter?

24 May 2018 | By Sarah Fox

Image: Everythingpossible/

Following last month’s column on electronic signatures and digital contracts, Sarah Fox examines the potential of smart contracts.

As noted in April’s CM, the reform programme launched by the Law Commission in December 2017 includes two reviews which could help the UK’s construction industry: electronic signatures and digital contracts, which were examined last month, and “smart” contracts.

A smart contract is essentially a computerised protocol that negotiates, verifies and automates the performance of a contract. Advocates say they will increase trust and certainty – but there are a few barriers to overcome before construction can contemplate them. These include:

However, although construction has been a slow digital adopter, the advantages include:

Greater transparency could rebuild trust across the supply chain – which could have speeded up the process of reviewing the causes of and learning from incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire and demise of Carillion.

Technology is coming and will eventually replace the wet-signed paper-based contracts that everyone loathes.

Sarah Fox is a writer and founder of contracts business 500 Words

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