This article is a fresh consideration of the courts’ powers to construe or rectify defective written instruments, specifically where they are assembled by computer program (‘document assembly’ or ‘computer-generation’). This is where the computer takes instructions from a client – usually via a web form – and generates the document through a serious of logical programmatic instructions that in effect copies, pastes and fills in standard precedents with no human intervention. It is not concerned with electronic execution; these documents are manually executed by people. Nor does it address ‘smart contracts’. Smart contracts are, in essence, the reverse of document assembly, pre-assembled by humans into computer instructions and then executed by machine. Some of the issues are indeed shared, but the overall process is different, and this article focuses on document assembly. The risk is, of course, that the final document may not reflect the true intention of the party or parties if there is an error in the design of the program such that it produces incorrect output. The question is how the present law, designed for human drafters, can deal with document assembly …
Derek Whayman, The Rectification (and Construction) of Computer Generated Documents, King’s Law Journal, 30:3, 489-516 (2019), DOI: 10.1080/09615768.2019.1687930.