Electronic Communications Convention- Impact on common law jurisdictions 2008


I. Background

[1] The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has been active in proposing law reform to enable electronic commerce. The organization’s Model Law on Electronic Commerce[2] has formed the template for the Uniform Law Conference of Canada’s Uniform Electronic Commerce Act (UECA),[3] which in turn has had great influence on the development of electronic commerce legislation in the common law provinces and territories of Canada.[4]

[2] UNCITRAL has lately developed the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (the “Convention”),[5] which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2005.   The objective of the Convention is “to establish uniform rules intended to remove obstacles to the use of electronic communications in international contracts (…), with a view to enhancing legal certainty and commercial predictability.”[6] Except for the specific focus on international contracts, the UECA and its provincial counterparts have similar goals.

[3] The impetus for developing a transnational electronic commerce convention arises from a recognition that domestic legislation varies significantly. A convention dealing with international electronic commerce would increase commercial predictability across borders.[7] However, the adoption of a transnational convention could produce confusing results if it is significantly different from existing domestic electronic commerce legislation.

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