Changes in International E-Contracting are on the Horizon: UN Convention on Electronic Contracting
The International Lawyer, 2011 Year in Review, ABA Section of International Law, 2012
Posted: 11 Jul 2012
Date Written: May 11, 2012
The use of electronic commerce in international trade has grown exponentially in the last few years. However, to date few legal instruments have harmonized the law in relation to electronic communications. In response to this gap, UNCITRAL initiated the Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (ECC). The Convention’s purpose is to “facilitate the use of electronic communications in international trade by assuring that contracts concluded and other communications exchanged electronically are as valid and enforceable as their traditional paper-based equivalents.” A simple goal, one would think, yet after several years of dormancy only two nations have ratified the Convention. However, the Convention may now be on the brink of coming into force as the Australian Parliament recently passed the Electronic Transactions Act 2011, which was explicitly drafted to comply with the ECC. Within the next year the Australian process will likely be complete at which time the Convention will come into force. Upon this occurrence, this unknown Convention will begin to impact the enforceability of electronic communication in key regions and industries. Consequently, it is imperative that practitioners have a basic understanding of the Convention’s coverage.
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