Legal analysis of the governed blockchain
作者：Adam Sanitt & Ian Grigg
A governed blockchain adds a Constitution to a permissionless blockchain
Each transaction on a governed blockchain includes a hashed reference to the Constitution
The Constitution takes effect legally as a series of private consensual arrangements involving different subsets of the community
A governed blockchain has the potential to resolve many of the legal uncertainties that may inhibit widespread adoption of distributed ledger technology in commerce and finance. However, the form of governance must not itself raise new intractable issues and a precise but flexible dispute resolution mechanism will be crucial to its success.
A governed blockchain has a Constitution. This is meant to be more than a statement of lofty aspirations – it should have some legal effect and be enforceable. Although a Constitution is – in legal terms – a private agreement, it may purport to contain obligations of a quasi-public as well as private nature, so that its analysis does not fit easily into pre-existing categories. Crucially, it should bind blockchain participants to a binding arbitration mechanism. To achieve these aims, a Constitution must:
create a legally binding contract;
allow others to enforce the terms of that contract; and
bind parties to an arbitration mechanism in that contract.
受治理的区块链有公约。 这不仅仅是对崇高愿望的申明——它应该具有一定的法律效力并且可以强制执行。 虽然公约在法律上是一个私人协议，但它旨在包含准公共性和私人性的义务，因此对其的分析不能被轻易适用于已有的类别。 至关重要的是，它应该将区块链参与者与具有约束力的仲裁机制绑定。 为实现这些目标，公约必须：
Whether a Constitution succeeds in these aims will depend on many factors, including its terms and the governing law that is chosen for it. In this paper, we address the issues that any governing law will consider and identify some legal subtleties of a governed blockchain Constitution that will arise in any governing law.
This is necessarily a predictive, even speculative, analysis. The most developed expression of blockchain governance, EOS, based on EOS.IO software, launched in early June 2018. It is designed to create three bases of power: firstly, block producers who maintain the chain; secondly, the community who vote on changes to the set of block producers and constitution; and thirdly, a forum for dispute resolution.
这必然是一种预测性的、推测性的分析。 基于EOS.IO软件在区块链治理机制中发展最好的EOS于2018年6月初启动。它旨在创建三个权力基础：第一个是维护区块链的BP; 第二，对区块生产者和公约的变化进行投票表决的社区; 第三，解决争议的论坛。
Our analysis will inevitably evolve after the launch, as we watch the chain emerge and practice its trade. Yet, as with all ventures based on prior agreement on a set of rules, much value rides on getting it right initially and mistakes can be hard to fix. Accordingly, we present here an a priori legal analysis of the governed blockchain, in which we seek to show that effective governance can be achieved by interpreting the Constitution as a series of private consensual agreements involving different but overlapping groups of users.
For analysis of blockchain disputes generally, we refer to the forthcoming chapter Blockchain Disputes: Risks and Resolutions in Unlocking the Blockchain, which will be available here （http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/technical-resources/blockchain/publications/ ）and, for a description of the EOS.IO design, see (Grigg, 2017), (block.one, 2017).
对于区块链争议的一般分析，我们参考即将出版的章节《区块链争议：解锁区块链的风险与对策》，这里 （http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/technical-resources/blockchain/publications/ ）可见，对EOS.IO设计的描述请参阅(Grigg, 2017), (block.one, 2017)。
What is a governed blockchain?
Blockchains have traditionally come in two flavours: permissionless and permissioned (Swanson, 2015). In a permissionless blockchain, anyone can join the network by creating a public/private key and submitting transactions to the network in accordance with the protocol. In a permissioned network, only identified nodes are permitted to submit transactions to the network or to take part in building the distributed consensus or adding to the blockchain. These nodes have generally undergone some form of validation independent of the blockchain before being allowed to join as users or block producers (e.g. miners) and there is generally an administrator with "super-user" powers over the blockchain (that is, the ability to amend or override the consensus mechanism or insert arbitrary transactions).
A governed blockchain adds a Constitution to a permissionless blockchain (see (block.one, 2017)). Although it allows anyone to take part, there is built into the protocol a requirement for transactions to contain a reference (in the form of a hash) to a separate document: the Constitution. Only transactions that contain a reference to the Constitution will be incorporated into the blockchain.
受治理的区块链将公约添加到公链中（参见（block.one，2017））。 虽然它允许任何人参与，但协议中内置了一个要求，即交易要包含对一个单独文件的引用（以哈希的形式）：公约。 只有包含公约引用的交易才会被纳入区块链。
Methods built into the Constitution might allow it to change over time. New transactions will refer to the current Constitution; previous ones will refer to older Constitutions. Block producers will have flexibility as to whether to accept changes to the Constitution. One mechanism for voting on Constitutional changes is simply consensual adoption by the community – in this way, much of the effect of a fork could be built in to the constitutional framework. For further details, see “JAC: the JAC Amendable Constitution” below.
公约中的方法可能会随着时间的推移而改变。 新交易将参考现行公约; 以前的那些将参考较旧的公约。 区块生产者可以灵活选择是否接受公约修改。 一种对公约是否改革进行投票表决的机制是社区一致同意采用——这样一来，分支的大部分影响都可以纳入公约框架。 有关详细信息，请参阅下面的《JAC：JAC可修改宪法》。
Governed blockchains will occupy a spectrum from ostensibly permissionless blockchains that nevertheless contain significant barriers to entry managed by central administrators to genuinely open platforms with community governance and evolution. In this paper, we focus on the idealised governed blockchain at the open end of the spectrum, but the issues raised apply, to varying degrees, across the spectrum.
We identify the following parties:
the User : the specific user who posts a transaction to the blockchain containing a hashed reference to the Constitution
the Counterparty : another individual who has entered into an arrangement with the User of which the posted transaction forms a part. The rest of the arrangement may consist of other transactions posted to the blockchain, or a smart contract or obligations to be carried out off the blockchain. For instance, the User buys something to be paid for using cryptocurrency recorded on the blockchain and the Counterparty is the seller transferring the physical object and receiving the cryptocurrency.
the Block Producer : the block producer who incorporates the transaction posted by the User into the blockchain.
The dApp Provider and the end-user : creator of a distributed application on the blockchain. The dApp Provider and a user of the application may be a User and Counterparty if they interact directly on the blockchain. Alternatively, the dApp Provider may be an intermediary, posting directly on the blockchain itself as a User, but insulating its own users from any interaction with the blockchain.
What is the legal effect of a governed blockchain?
Assume a transaction contains a reference to a Constitution – does this have any legal effect? Is it any different to including a reference to Bitcoin: A Peer-to-peer electronic cash system by Satoshi Nakamoto or to the US constitution? In fact, in most legal systems, the reference to a Constitution will have legal effects. The key to understanding these effects – and how they differ from the sort of constitution that might underlie a country – is that the Constitution, at least initially, will be seen purely as a private agreement between parties. It will be subject to the area of law dealing with consensual agreements. The quasi-public effectiveness of the Constitution will be limited by its nature as a creation of private contract law – see “Civil and Criminal” below.
假设交易中已经包含了公约（Constitution）的内容——这是否具有任何法律效力？ 包含对中本聪（Satoshi Nakamoto）的《比特币：点对点电子现金系统》和美国宪法的引用是否有任何不同？ 事实上，在大多数法律制度中，对公约的引用都会产生法律效力。 理解这些影响的关键以及它们与可能构成一个国家宪法的区别的关键在于，至少在最初阶段，公约将纯粹被视为各方之间的私人协议。 它将受到处理双方一致同意协议的法律领域的约束。 公约的准公共效力将受到其作为私人合同法创立的性质的限制——见下文《民事和刑事》。
Constitution as contract
Our goal is to ensure that the Constitution works. This happens at three levels: it will take effect automatically as a smart contract (R3 & Norton Rose Fulbright, 2016), it will be supported by the community, and it will be enforced by the courts (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 – the inverted apex effect on the courts in strengthening contracts
我们的目标是确保公约有效。 这发生在三个层面上：它将作为智能合约自动生效（R3＆Norton Rose Fulbright，2016），它将得到社区的支持，它将由法院强制执行（见图1）。
For court intervention to operate smoothly, the Constitution should contain certain classical elements such as governing law and jurisdiction clauses and clearly set out the User’s obligations and rights (we discuss below in more detail why these clauses are necessary). Assuming these conditions are satisfied, it is likely that the Constitution would be interpreted as a contract binding on the User and other parties, although there are some technicalities, also considered below.
Forming a contract
To be legally enforceable, the parties must agree to enter into a contract. This is generally characterised as a process of offer and acceptance. For the Constitution to be effective as a contract, it must fit within the offer and acceptance paradigm.
为了在法律上可以强制执行，双方必须同意签订合约。 这通常被描述为提议和接受的过程。 要使公约作为合约有效，它必须符合提议和接受范式。
The key act is the posting of the transaction containing the reference to the hashed Constitution. Although posting to a blockchain a hash of a document in a message secured by a private key (that is, digitally signed) is an unusual means of specifying the terms of a contract – a manuscript signature is the normal method – there is no reason in principle why it cannot work and, indeed, it appears to specify the exact terms clearly and unambiguously. This is the idea behind the so-called Ricardian contract and, indeed, the Constitution will – among other things – be a Ricardian contract.
其中关键的行为是发布包含哈希公约引用的交易。 虽然在区块链中发布由私钥（即数字签名）保护的消息中的哈希文件是指定合约条款的一种非常规的方法，手稿签名是正常的方法，但是原则上没有理由它不起作用，实际上这种方法似乎可以清楚明确地指明确切的条款。 这就是所谓的李嘉图合约背后的理念，事实上，公约除了其他之外也是李嘉图合约。
Where membership is less open, posting a transaction may not be a User’s first interaction with the community. In this case, there may be scope for a User to undertake the obligations of the Constitution by entering into an explicit formal agreement using established non-blockchain norms. The feasibility of this approach will depend on the details of the blockchain – in this paper, we restrict discussion to the idealised open governed blockchain. In any case, whether the Constitution is entered into offline or using the blockchain techniques discussed here, to ensure practical enforcement by the community, evidence of offer and acceptance should be sufficiently certain and accessible, which strongly suggests that those elements be preserved on the blockchain.
如果成员资格不太公开，发布交易可能不是用户与社区的第一次交互。 在这种情况下，用户可以通过使用既定的非区块链规范签订明确的正式协议来承担公约义务。 这种方法的可行性将取决于区块链的细节——在本文中，我们将只讨论理想化的开放式受治理的区块链。 无论如何，无论公约是否进入线下或使用此处讨论的区块链技术，为了确保社区的实际执行，提议和接受的证据应是足够确定和可获取的，这强烈暗示了这些要素应保留在区块链上。
Posting a transaction is an act by a single person – it cannot constitute both offer and acceptance. There must be at least one other act by another person to form a contract. This is vital for the enforceability of the Constitution. In general, only other parties to a contract can enforce that contract (in fact there are limited exceptions that allow third parties to enforce contractual obligations in many legal systems, but only if there is a contract binding on its parties ). So, if somebody undertakes an obligation in a contract but no interested person is party to that contract, it becomes effectively unenforceable.
发布交易是个人行为——它不能构成提议和接受两者。必须有至少由另一个人的其他行为发起才能形成合约。 这对于公约的可执行性至关重要。 一般而言，只有合约的其他各方才能执行该合约（事实上，有限的例外情况允许第三方在许多法律制度中强制执行合同义务，但前提是合约对各方具有约束力）。 因此，如果有人在合约中承担义务但没有利害关系人是该合约的当事方，那么它实际上是不可执行的。
In practice, a single posting on the blockchain may lead to a contract in a number of different ways:
A posting by a User may be an offer accepted by a Counterparty posting its own transaction, leading to the formation of a bilateral contract between them, perhaps also partly constituted in a smart contract. In this way, a transaction between a User and Counterparty would incorporate the Constitution.
Alternatively, the Counterparty could accept the offer by performing an act other than posting on the blockchain, such as transferring an asset or cash. This would also constitute a bilateral contract incorporating the Constitution.
A posting by a User may be a unilateral offer to abide by the Constitution accepted by a Block Producer adding the transaction to the blockchain. This would create a contract between that User and that Block Producer. If the Block Producer is acting as agent for all Block Producers or a wider group of market participants, there may be a multilateral contract between them all. However, as most legal systems have a principle that an agency can only be established by an act of the principal rather than the agent, the agency may need to be set out other than in the Constitution itself.
Previous acts such as postings by other Users and creation of blocks by Block Producers might constitute an offer that is accepted by the User posting on the blockchain. This might be mediated by software which presents the Constitution to a potential new User and posts a transaction on the blockchain when they indicate acceptance of it. This contract could involve multiple parties.
As the blockchain becomes more established, it may establish a community with social conventions as to the acceptance of the Constitution. These background facts may be sufficient for a posting by a User to bind it to a contract with other members of the community that includes the Constitution.
As governed blockchains develop, all of these methods and others will be used to bind participants to a Constitution. Essentially, a Constitution will not be a single arrangement, but a series of private consensual arrangements involving possibly different groups of people. Replicating the universal effectiveness of a public agreement will need a multiplicity of private agreements – a patchwork that will ensure that all obligations can be enforced against all participants.
随着受治理的区块链的发展，所有这些方法和其他方法将用于将参与者与公约联系起来。 从本质上讲，公约不是一个单一的协议，而是一系列可能涉及不同人群的私人协商一致的协议。 复制公共协议的普遍有效性将需要多种私人协议——这种拼凑将确保所有参与者都要强制执行所有义务。
Offer and acceptance alone is not sufficient to constitute a legally enforceable contract. Most legal systems require some additional element to show that a party to an agreement should be able to call on the courts to enforce it. This additional element might include consideration – a mutual benefit bargained for between the parties, that the agreement concerns a commercial or legal object, or that the parties to it have an intention to create legal relations. Whether submitting the transaction including a hash to a Constitution satisfies this additional requirement will depend on the complete factual background behind the transaction.
仅提议和接受不足以构成法律上可执行的合约。 大多数法律制度都需要一些附加的要素表明协议的一方能够请求法院强制执行合约。 这一额外要素可能包括考虑双方之间的共同利益，即协议涉及商业或法律目标，或者其当事方有意建立法律关系。 是否将包含哈希的交易提交给满足此附加要求的公约将取决于交易背后的完整的事实背景。
For instance, take the requirement to show that the parties have an intention to create legal relations. The User is likely to interact with the blockchain via software that presents a graphical user interface. An intention to create legal relations must be inferred from the User’s interaction with this interface, not just the content that is posted to the blockchain. The User may click a button or check a tickbox which triggers software to post a transaction that includes a hash to the Constitution.
例如，要求表明当事人有意建立法律关系。 用户可能通过提供图形用户界面的软件与区块链进行交互。 必须从用户与此界面的交互中推断出创建法律关系的意图，而不仅仅是发布到区块链中的内容。 用户可以单击按钮或选中触发软件的复选框，以将包含哈希的交易发布到公约。
This raises two issues. First, is the wording on the button sufficient to demonstrate an intention to create legal relations? Without a consistent standard, this will be a factual question that depends on the details of each piece of software used to access the blockchain. And this issue applies not just to the Constitution but to every agreement concluded using the blockchain. A solution to this may be for a consistent mode of expressing agreement to be mandated for all software included in the blockchain. This would ideally be included in the Constitution itself – solving the problem for the Constitution and for all agreements concluded on the blockchain.
这引出了两个问题。 第一，按钮上的措辞是否足以表明有意建立法律关系？ 如果没有一致的标准，这将是一个实际问题，取决于访问区块链的每一软件部分的细节。 这个问题不仅适用于公约，而且适用于使用区块链达成的每项协议。 对此的解决方案可以是针对区块链中包括的所有软件强制执行表达协议的一致模式。 理想情况下，这将被纳入公约本身——解决公约问题以及区块链上达成的所有协议。
Second, does inclusion of the hash within a transaction posted to the blockchain generally show intention to undertake a legal obligation? If so, then this suggests that the User has that intention in a particular case. There are certain ways the Constitution itself can be drafted so as to maximise the chance that it is seen as legally binding, such as by explicit statements that it constitutes the terms of a contractual relationship, including details of how it may be accepted, and the inclusion of governing law, jurisdiction and dispute resolution clauses. In effect, this would contractually mandate the acceptance of digital signatures on the blockchain, mitigating any limitations on digital signatures in local laws.
第二，在发布到区块链的交易中包含哈希值是否一般表明有意承担法律义务？ 如果是这样，表明用户在特定情况下具有该意图。 公约本身可以通过某种方式起草，以最大限度地提高其被视为具有法律约束力的机会，例如通过明确声明它构成合约关系的条款，包括它如何被接受的细节，以及纳入管辖法律、管辖权和争议解决条款。 实际上，这将在合约上强制要求在区块链上接受数字签名，从而减轻当地法律对数字签名的任何限制。
Irrespective of the precise additional requirement to demonstrate legal effectiveness, any Constitution has a starting point at which it is just a document. How does it come to be seen as a legally binding agreement for an entire community? That is likely to take a certain amount of bootstrapping: an originating community demonstrates its commitment to the Constitution to new participants, in much the same way that a community assertion of trust in a cryptocurrency starts with a few early adopters and ultimately becomes self-fulfilling when this fosters acceptance by the wider community.
无论证明法律效力的确切附加要求如何，任何公约都有一个起点，它仅仅只是一个文件。 它是如何被整个社区视为具有法律约束力的协议？ 这可能需要一定程度的引导：一个原始社区向新参与者展示其对公约的承诺，就像一个社区主张对加密货币的信任开始于一些早期采用者，当更大的社区接受了加密货币时最终变成自我实现的方式一样。
Expressing the Constitution within the blockchain software is a key resource to assist this process, but it is also a social phenomenon. New members of the community do not enter in isolation, they do so through a social process. That social process can be seen as the foundation for establishing the intent to be bound by the Constitution. For example, an existing member of the community may report to the blockchain witnessing the manifestation of the intent of the new member. In this way, the Constitution may gradually take on the form of a real, public constitution – like a state or municipal constitution that evolved from agreement among members of a local community.
在区块链软件中表达公约是协助这一过程的关键资源，但它也是一种社会现象。 社区的新成员不会孤立地进入，他们通过社会过程进入社区。 这种社会过程可被视为建立公约约束意图的基础。 例如，社区的现有成员可以向区块链报告，见证新成员意图的表现。 通过这种方式，公约可以逐渐形成一种真正的公共宪法的形式——就像从当地社区成员之间的协议演变而来的州或市政宪法。