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Electronic Signatures in International Contracts


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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Part II: Electronic signature legislation


Electronic signatures have been the object of attention by lawmakers starting from the second half of the nineteen nineties. The regulation and legal approach taken towards the recognition of electronic signatures will be analyzed with regard to the legislation passed in the United States of America, the European Union with particular reference to Germany, and Argentina. This section will also cover the work of UNCITRAL as well as other organizations. Chapter 3: The United States of America A. UETA and E-Sign Since 1995 the states of the United States of America have been very active in facilitating and promoting the electronic form.141 In that year the state of Utah enacted the Utah Digital Signature Act,142 the first statute on the matter in the United States of America and, arguably, also worldwide.143 The statute focused on digital signatures and did not recognize types of signatures other than those based on asymmetric cryptography. Moreover, it established a licensing scheme for certifiers. Although the licensing scheme was not mandatory, the signatures based on certificates issued by licensed certifiers enjoyed higher legal protection due to the application of legal presumptions (Section 46-3-401). After the Utah Digital Signature Act was enacted most of the state legislatures passed laws on the issue of electronic signatures; however, they did not always follow the same legal approach.144 The enactment of state statutes in an individual, isolated manner resulted in a vast amount of legislation and different legal rules. In view of this situation two institutions took steps...

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