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Electronic Signatures in International Contracts

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Carolina Monica Laborde

Electronic signature legislation seeks to facilitate e-commerce by providing an electronic equivalent to handwritten signatures in paper-based contracts. However, electronic signature legislation enacted in the past years in different jurisdictions has followed a dissimilar approach. In light thereof, this book analyzes the legal validity of electronic signatures in international contracts potentially subject to divergent electronic signature regulation. To this end, four major issues are addressed: the technological and legal concept of electronic signatures; the legal regulation of electronic signatures; the determination of the electronic signature legislation that will be applicable to an international contract; and, finally, the implications of applying one electronic signature law or another. The research covers the laws of Argentina, Germany and the United States of America as well as international conventions.

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Introduction

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The purpose of this work is to analyze electronic signatures in the context of international contracts. More precisely, the goal is to study the impact of electronic signature legislation on the legal validity of electronic signatures when used in transactions that bring together different legal systems. Electronic means of communication such as the Internet and e-mail open the possibility for the execution of contracts. However, some types of contracts must fulfill certain formal requirements to be valid or enforceable. One such formal requirement is the signature; then, contracts that require a signature should be capable of being signed electronically. The irruption of electronic signatures raised questions in the legal field, mainly as to their validity. Since the mid 1990s the law has addressed those issues and, as a result, legislation on the topic has proliferated at a steady pace but not always in the same direction. Electronic signature legislation seeks to ensure the legal validity of electronic signatures. Nevertheless, the question is whether this goal has been achieved in the international sphere. Contracts entered into electronically are likely to be international and to bear contacts with more than one legal system; however, due to divergent electronic signatures statutes, an electronic signature may be regarded as valid under one law but not under another one. In order to answer the question as to the legal value of electronic signatures in international contracts different topics have to be analyzed. The work is divided into three parts and ten chapters. Part one presents...

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