Symboleo: Specification and Verification of Legal Contracts

Alireza Parvizimosaed, University, My
Contracts are legally binding and enforceable agreements among two or more parties that govern social interactions. They have been used for millennia, including in commercial transactions, employment relationships and intellectual property generation. Each contract determines obligations and powers of contracting parties. The execution of a contract needs to be continuously monitored to ensure compliance with its terms and conditions. Smart contracts are software systems that monitor and
more » ... the execution of contracts to ensure compliance. But for such software systems to become possible, contracts need to be specified precisely to eliminate ambiguities, contradictions, and missing clauses. This thesis proposes a formal specification language for contracts named Symboleo. The ontology of Symboleo is founded on the legal concepts of obligation (a kind of duty) and power (a kind of right) complemented with the concepts of event and situation that are suitable for conceptualizing monitoring tasks. The formal semantics of legal concepts is defined in terms of state machines that describe the lifetimes of contracts, obligations, and powers, as well as axioms that describe precisely state transitions. The language supports execution-time operations that enable subcontracting assignment of rights and substitution of performance to a third party during the execution of a contract. Symboleo has been applied to the formalization of contracts from three different domains as a preliminary evaluation of its expressiveness. Formal specifications can be algorithmically analyzed to ensure that they satisfy desired properties. Towards this end, the thesis presents two implemented analysis tools. One is a conformance checking tool (SymboleoPC) that ensures that a specification is consistent with the expectations of contracting parties. Expectations are defined for this tool in terms of scenarios (sequences of events) and the expected final outcome (i.e., successful/unsuccessful execution). The other tool (SymboleoPC), which bu [...]
doi:10.20381/ruor-28399 fatcat:rm53bux5anahliyrrthcjs6wce