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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 III: Electronic signatures and international contracts 133


Part III: Electronic signatures and international contracts The regulation of electronic signatures differs throughout different countries – or sometimes even within one same country; therefore, contracting parties must know in advance the law that will establish the electronic signature requirements. The application of one electronic signature legislation or another may determine whether a contract complies with the legal requirement of a signature or not. For instance, if a law requires that an electronic signature be based on public key cryptography to be considered equivalent to handwritten signatures, a signature based on any other technique, even if it is valid under a foreign law, may not be considered to comply with the signature legal requirements of the law governing the formal validity of the contract. The question of which law establishes the formal requirements arises in international contracts. A contract which is linked to one country only will be governed by the law of that country. Contrarily, in the case of international contracts their contacts to more than one country result in the situation that more than one law may potentially determine their formal requirements. Therefore, a contract with links to two or more countries triggers the question of which national law will determine the form requirements of the contract. Among those formal requirements is encompassed the signature requirement. Thus, it first has to be established when a contract is international. Second, it is necessary to determine which law, of the multiple possible laws, will govern the form requirements of the contract....

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