Legal Personality for Blockchains, DAOs and Smart Contracts

ABSTRACT: This article expresses strong support for the idea proposed by the Government of Malta in a recently issued DLT Consultation Paper (referred to, in the article, as the “consultation document”) of permitting the grant of legal personality in the form of a newly designed type of legal entity incorporating a blockchain and/or smart contract/DAO/DAC arrangements. It examines why conferring legal personality to new kinds of technology artifacts is a worthy endeavour; specifically those kinds of Technology Arrangements that exhibit autonomous behaviour, and yet interact with humans. The need for this arises not only for the emergence of autonomous entities in the physical world, but even more so for autonomous software artifacts which come in the form or are built on top of public blockchain technologies. Such autonomous entities may even survive the life of their designers, with self-sufficiency, thus undermining the Nearest Person principle; they will exist for an indefinite amount of time; yet they could potentially cause damage and loss to the users to whom they provide services. The article tries to resolve the issue of how liability can be managed in this scenario, all the while protecting the innovation capability of a thriving open source engineering community that promotes these developments. It reflects the position as of the 24th March 2018.