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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - International Dispute Resolution

Guest lecture by Silke N Elrifai, 21 December 2018


On 21 December 2018, the IDR LL.M. students had the opportunity to participate in a guest lecture held by Ms Silke Elrifai, General Counsel at Gnosis and Counsel at the law firm AMERELLER. It dealt with the very recent topic of “Arbitration and Blockchain”. Ms Silke Elrifai’s approach to the topic was very intriguing, as she demonstrated that one can understand it in different ways: does the issue concern Blockchain Arbitration? Or Arbitrating blockchains? The increasing importance of this new area of law will surely become more and more apparent in the years to come.

To introduce the IDR LL.M. students to the subject, the lecture started with a short definition of blockchain, including some technical terminology, and continued with the advantages the blockchain technology entails. Ms Silke Elrifai also explained and discussed the term “smart contracts”, that is self-enforcing contracts based on codes.

The second part of the lecture consisted of an in-depth analysis of the legal aspects surrounding these new technological developments, including the enforceability of smart contracts and the disputes that may arise from them. Ms Silke Elrifai proposed that arbitration was the best way to solve disputes related to smart contracts, taking into account the great amount of party autonomy in arbitration as well as the autonomy demanded by the blockchain ecosystem. Ms Silke Elrifai concluded the lecture with comments on the future of and prospective developments in blockchain disputes. Although this was the last lecture before the Christmas Holidays, the innovative and thought-provoking nature of the subject caught everyone’s attention until the very last minute.


Hamit Alp Ünlü, IDR LL.M. Candidate