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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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Chapter 6: The work of national and international institutions 109


Chapter 6: The work of national and international institutions National and international institutions such as UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce and the American Bar Association took an active role in promoting the use of electronic signatures and advancing their legal framework. A. UNCITRAL The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)304 is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly and is responsible for furthering the harmonization and unification of international trade law.305 UNCITRAL issued two model laws which deal, one partially and the other entirely, with the topic of electronic signatures: The Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996) and the Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001).306 In 2005, UNCITRAL adopted the Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts.307 Model laws are legislatives texts that aim at providing lawmakers with guidance when enacting national legislation in topics related to international trade. Lawmakers may adopt model laws as proposed by UNCITRAL or may freely modify them. However, the goal of model laws is not only to provide legislators with a legal text that is deemed appropriate for a certain aspect of international trade law but mainly to achieve unification of legislation in that area of law. Therefore, the larger the number of countries that enact legislation based on a model law, the fewer the chances of having divergent national legislation. In conclusion, unlike conventions model laws do not enter into force, are not enforceable and may be widely modified.308 Nonetheless, due to their...

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