Mark Shope (National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University; Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) has posted “The Bill of Lading on the Blockchain: An Analysis of its Compatibility with International Rules on Commercial Transactions” (Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, Vol. 22, 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article examines the legal compatibility of a blockchain bill of lading under the following UNCITRAL works: the Model Law on Electronic Commerce, the Model Law on Electronic Signatures, the Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts, the Rotterdam Rules, and the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records. The bill of lading has been around for centuries, shaping the cross-border sales landscape while at the same time being shaped by it. Blockchain technology is providing an opportunity to assess how various industries are conducting business, including the cross-border sales landscape. The compatibility of blockchain with bills of lading may seem unusual, since the former may be perceived as a new, disruptive technology originally used to trade cryptocurrency and the latter may be perceived as a centuries old, outdated solution that has resisted change. This article attempts to show that these two systems can in fact be compatible with each other and be compatible with international rules on commercial transactions, specifically as they relate to the bill of lading. Blockchain could be the technology that will put an end to the drawbacks of paper bills of lading, and the bill of lading system, if fully adopted, could be the application that develops blockchain technology to its full potential in the shipping industry.