Smart Contracts – Self-Executing Contracts of the Future?

Jelena Madir, General Counsel, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Switzerland

The first thing many people think of when they hear the term ‘smart contract’ is a contract that is somehow transposed into computer code and runs without any human intervention. This misses the mark by a wide margin. Instead, smart contracts are better thought of as ‘conditional transactions’ because they refer to the logic written in code that has ‘if this, then that’ conditions. For example, it can easily be programmed in a smart contract that ‘if on 1 October 2021, Bank A does not receive EUR 1,000 from John, then transfer EUR 1,000 from John’s account to Bank A’s account.’ Smart contracts have the potential to significantly improve efficiency, as contracts can be performed instantly and without the services of third parties. As illustrated in the US Chamber of Digital Commerce’s report, they have a number of potential applications from the automatic payment of dividends to property transfers and automation of insurance claims.

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Switzerland Contract Healthcare June 2020 Vol.13, No. 51, Spring 2020

Jelena Madir


Jelena Madir is the General Counsel of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Geneva. Before joining Gavi in 2019, she spent 11 years at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, where she headed the Financial Law Unit – a dedicated unit focused on legal reform in the areas of corporate governance, FinTech, insolvency and access to finance. Jelena is the editor and contributing author of the books FinTech: Law and Regulation and HealthTech: Law and Regulation.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance


Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance aims to improve access to immunisation in the poorest countries of the world. It is structured as a public private partnership, which brings together multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, the WHO and the UNICEF; the Gates Foundation; donor and implementing country governments; research institutions; civil society organisations and vaccine manufacturers. Between its creation in 2000 and the end of 2018, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of nearly 800 million children and has helped prevent more than 13 million deaths from vaccine preventable diseases.

Switzerland Contract Healthcare June 2020 Vol.13, No. 51, Spring 2020

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