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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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A. Convention on the Law Applicable to International Sales of Goods 148

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148 Part III: Electronic signatures and international contracts convention provides the material rules to which the contract is subject.458 Nevertheless, in these cases the determination of the applicable law is still needed because conventions normally do not cover all contractual aspects.459 A. Convention on the Law Applicable to International Sales of Goods I. Background The Convention on the Law Applicable to International Sales of Goods was approved on June 15, 1955 and entered into force on September 1, 1964.460 The convention is the result of the work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization which works towards the “progressive unification of the rules of private international law”.461 The Hague Conference on Private international law has its seat in The Hague, The Netherlands, it was first established in 1893 and has currently more than sixty member states. The work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law focuses mainly on issues of family and commercial law. The Convention on the Law Applicable to International Sales of Goods is in force in Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Niger.462 II. International contracts The convention does not include a definition of international contract. It simply states that it applies to sales of international nature (Article 1). Therefore, it is up to the forum judge to determine when a sale is international. However, the inclusion of choice of law or choice of forum clauses does not render a contract international (Article 1). This means that the contracting...

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