A Formal Specification Smart-Contract Language for Legally Binding Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

Vimal Dwivedi, Alex Norta, Alexander Wulf, Benjamin Leiding, Sandeep Saxena, Chibuzor Udokwu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Blockchain- and smart-contract technology enhance the effectiveness and automation of business processes. The rising interest in the development of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) shows that blockchain technology has the potential to reform business and society. A DAO is an organization wherein business rules are encoded in smart-contract programs that are executed when specified rules are met. The contractual- and business semantics are sine qua non for drafting a legally-binding smart contract in DAO collaborations. Several smart-contract languages (SCLs) exist, such as SPESC, or Symboleo to specify a legally-binding contract. However, their primary focus is on designing and developing smart contracts with the cooperation of IT- and non-IT users. Therefore, this paper fills a gap in the state of the art by specifying a smart-legal-contract markup language (SLCML) for legal- and business constructs to draft a legally-binding DAO. To achieve the paper objective, we first present a formal SCL ontology to describe the legal- and business semantics of a DAO. Secondly, we translate the SCL ontology into SLCML, for which we present the XML schema definition. We demonstrate and evaluate our SLCML language through the specification of a real life-inspired Sale-of-Goods contract. Finally, the SLCML use-case code is translated into Solidity to demonstrate its feasibility for blockchain platform implementations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9435331
Pages (from-to)76069-76082
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • B2B
  • Blockchain
  • business process
  • decentralized autonomous organization
  • ontology
  • smart contract
  • smart contract language


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