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Applicability of Blockchain based Bill of Lading under the Rotterdam Rules and UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records

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Document pages: 18 pages

Abstract: Purpose – This paper investigates applicability of blockchain based bill of lading under the current legal environment. Legal requirements of electronic bill of lading will be analyzed based on the Rotterdam Rules and recently enacted UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records. Using comparative analysis with the previous registry model for electronic bill of lading, this paper examines the advantages of blockchain based bill of lading. Design methodology – This research reviewed previous efforts for dematerializing bill of lading with its limitation. Main features of blockchain technology which can make up for deficiencies of registry model also be investigated to analyze whether these features can satisfy the requirements for the legal validity of the negotiable electronic transport record or electronic transferable records under the Rotterdam Rules and the MLETR. Findings – Main findings of this research can be summarized as follows: Blockchain system operated in an open platform can improve transparency and scalability in transfer of electronic bill of lading by assuring easy access for transaction. Distributed ledger technology of blockchain makes it more difficult to forge or tamper with transactions because all participants equally shares identical transaction records. Consensus mechanism and timestamp in a blockchain transaction guarantee the integrity and uniqueness of a transaction. These features are enough to satisfy the requirements of electronic transferable records under the Rotterdam Rules and MLTER. Originality value – This study has significance in that it provided implications for the introduction of electronic bill of lading by analyzing whether the blockchain based electronic bill of lading model meets the legal requirements under the current legal system prepared prior to the introduction of blockchain technology, and by presenting the advantages of the blockchain based bill of lading model through comparative analysis with the existing registry model.

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