Appendix I: United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)

Author:Gregory, John - Pestaina, Mr Gene
Profession:General Counsel, Policy Branch - Attorney-at-law
Pages:66-79

Page 66

UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce with Guide to Enactment - 1996 with additional article 5 bis as adopted in 1998 Page 67

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly [on the report of the Sixth Committee (A/51/628)] 51/162

Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

The General Assembly

Recalling its resolution 2205 (XXI) of 17 December 1966, by which it created the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, with a mandate to further the progressive harmonisation and unification of the law of international trade and in that respect to bear in mind the interests of all peoples, in particular those of developing countries, in the extensive development of international trade, Noting that an increasing number of transactions in international trade are carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of communication, commonly referred to as "electronic commerce", which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information,

Recalling the recommendation on the legal value of computer records adopted by the Commission at its eighteenth session, in 1985,(1) and paragraph 5(b) of General Assembly resolution 40/71 of 11 December 1985, in which the Assembly called upon Governments and international organizations to take action, where appropriate, in conformity with the recommendation of the Commission,(1) so as to ensure legal security in the context of the widest possible use of automated data processing in international trade,

Convinced that the establishment of a model law facilitating the use of electronic commerce that is acceptable to States with different legal, social and economic systems, could contribute significantly to the development of harmonious international economic relations,

Noting that the Model Law on Electronic Commerce was adopted by the Commission at its twenty-ninth session after consideration of the observations of Governments and interested organizations,

Believing that the adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Commerce by the Commission will assist all States significantly in enhancing their legislation governing the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information and in formulating such legislation where none currently exists,Page 68

  1. Expresses its appreciation to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for completing and adopting the Model Law on Electronic Commerce contained in the annex to the present resolution and for preparing the Guide to Enactment of the Model Law;

  2. Recommends that all States give favourable consideration to the Model Law when they enact or revise their laws, in view of the need for uniformity of the law applicable to alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information;

  3. Recommends also that all efforts be made to ensure that the Model Law, together with the Guide, become generally known and available.

85th plenary meeting

16 December 1996Page 69

Part one: Electronic commerce in general

UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce

[Original: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish]

Chapter I: General provisions
Article 1 Sphere of application

This * Law** applies to any kind of information in the form of a data message used in the context*** of commercial**** activities.Page 70

Article 2 Definitions

For the purposes of this Law:

(a) "Data message" means information generated, sent, received or stored by electronic, optical or similar means including, but not limited to, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic mail, telegram, telex or telecopy;

(b) "Electronic data interchange (EDI)" means the electronic transfer from computer to computer of information using an agreed standard to structure the information;

(c) "Originator" of a data message means a person by whom, or on whose behalf, the data message purports to have been sent or generated prior to storage, if any, but it does not include a person acting as an intermediary with respect to that data message;

(d) "Addressee" of a data message means a person who is intended by the originator to receive the data message, but does not include a person acting as an intermediary with respect to that data message;

(e) "Intermediary", with respect to a particular data message, means a person who, on behalf of another person, sends, receives or stores that data message or provides other services with respect to that data message;

(f) "Information system" means a system for generating, sending, receiving, storing or otherwise processing data messages.

Article 3 Interpretation

(1) In the interpretation of this Law, regard is to be had to its international origin and to the need to promote uniformity in its application and the observance of good faith.

(2) Questions concerning matters governed by this Law which are not expressly settled in it are to be settled in conformity with the general principles on which this Law is based.

Article 4 Variation by agreement

(1) As between parties involved in generating, sending, receiving, storing or otherwise processing data messages, and except as otherwise provided, the provisions of chapter III may be varied by agreement.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not affect any right that may exist to modify by agreement any rule of law referred to in chapter II.Page 71

Chapter II: Application of legal requirements to data messages
Article 5 Legal recognition of data messages

Information shall not be denied legal effect, validity or enforce-ability solely on the grounds that it is in...

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