The Open Source Project Will Establish and Maintain a Common Legal and Technical Foundation for Smart Legal Contracts
The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the launch of the Accord Project as a Linux Foundation project. The Accord Project is a nonprofit organization that builds open source code and documentation to maintain a common and consistent legal and technical foundation for contract management. The project comprises all the software necessary to author, edit and execute smart legal contracts in a standardized way. Many of the world’s largest global law firms have signed on, as well as leading industry bodies and technology companies such as DocuSign, IBM, IEEE and R3.
Smart contracts are showing promise for simplifying complexities in supply chain management and other contract-heavy areas of technology development, but they also introduce requirements for interoperability and consistency. The Accord Project provides a globally interoperable approach for creating contracts that bind legally enforceable natural language text to executable business logic. With an increased focus on enterprise digitalization, adoption of blockchain technologies and the growth of the API economy, the usage of computable agreements is rapidly increasing. Having a common format for “computable” legal agreements is an important cornerstone for the future of commercial relationships. One of the main purposes of Accord Project is to provide a vendor-neutral “.doc” format for smart legal agreements.
“The Linux Foundation is home to communities that are advancing the world’s most critical software infrastructure,” said Mike Dolan, VP of strategic programs at The Linux Foundation. “The Accord Project represents an opportunity to collaboratively build the framework necessary for the next generation of contracting. Their work is essential in supporting the software that runs our lives.”
Contract templates are composed of three elements: the Template Grammar (the natural language text for the template), the Template Model (the data model that backs the template), and the Logic (the executable business logic for the template). When combined these three elements allow templates to be edited, analyzed, queried and executed. Importantly, the Accord Project’s approach does not lock smart legal contracts into any particular execution environment or vendor applications. Smart legal contract templates can be used with a wide variety of technologies, including different types of distributed ledgers.
The templates are designed to be quick to create from existing legal contracts and easy to execute using the Ergo domain specific language. Ergo aims to help legal tech developers quickly and safely write computable legal contracts. Ergo’s other goals are modularity (reuse of existing contract or clause logic), ensuring safe execution, neutrality with respect to blockchain implementation if one is chosen, and being formally specified so the meaning of contracts is well defined and can be verified and preserved during execution.
Dan Selman, co-director of the Accord Project and Chair of its Technology Working Group, noted that “Our goals for the Accord Project are to promote the use of open legal technology, attract a self-sustaining base of contributors, supported by a rigorous governance structure. Linux Foundation has been an excellent steward to scores of open source projects, large and small, over many years. We believe Linux Foundation is the perfect home for Accord Project and look forward to learning from the collective wisdom of the Linux Foundation community and taking advantage of the various services and programs they offer.”
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