Platform technologies in the sharing economy : legal foundations and taxonomy

  • Juan Diaz-Granados Prieto

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    The Sharing Economy and the platform technologies it relies upon represent a new phenomenon in the economy as well as in law. These new technologies, often conflated with the Sharing Economy, are spreading rapidly, causing significant disruption in society, businesses, and regulatory models around the globe. New platform technologies allow the creation of a new business model with a new legal structure, and there are calls for a reform of the regulatory system to address the disruption results. To approach the regulatory problem, however, a prior, more fundamental task needs to be undertaken. The new legal structure created by this new platform-based model is poorly understood. Although efforts have been made to regulate particular platform-based models, there is a widespread and fundamental lack of understanding of the phenomenon. This situation has resulted in conflicting decisions from legislators and courts, as well as conflicting views from legal scholars. This dissertation argues that this lack of understanding is due to the absence of focus on the legal foundations — a prerequisite to any analysis of the phenomenon. Accordingly, analysis of the legal foundations of the new platform-based model, mistakenly called the ‘Sharing Economy’, is necessary to provide an adequate regulatory response. This task is the topic of this dissertation.
    The dissertation argues that the legal foundations necessary to understand and regulate the phenomenon are three: (1) the legal definition of the phenomenon; (2) the legal nature of the relationships and actors of the phenomenon; and (3) the main rights and duties and other jural relations arising from the phenomenon (‘Legal Foundations’). This dissertation identifies and analyses the Legal Foundations, creating a legal framework that functions as a bedrock for the legal analysis of the phenomenon. Using a taxonomic and doctrinal approach that considers the fundamental contractual and proprietary nature of the model, this work constitutes the conceptual and analytical foundation that was missing to evaluate, understand and regulate the phenomenon. It conducts the analytically complex task of defining the phenomenon from a legal perspective –– distinguishing it from related platform-based phenomena –– and identifying, classifying, and analysing the different components that define its legal nature and jural relations. Lawmakers, scholars, and legal operators can look to this legal framework to gain a comprehensive, coherent, and systematic understanding of the new platform-based model and the challenge that it presents.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBenedict Sheehy (Supervisor), Murray Raff (Supervisor), Sarah Ailwood (Supervisor) & Craig Applegate (Supervisor)

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