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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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G. United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts 175

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Chapter 8: The international contract in international legal instruments 175 G. United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts I. Background Aware of the increasing use of electronic communications in international trade and within its powers to further the harmonization of international trade law, UNCITRAL prepared the Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts. This convention has not yet entered into force. II. International contracts The Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts determines the international character of a contract based on the location of the places of business of the contracting parties (Article 1.1). A contract is deemed international when the parties have their places of business in different states. UNCITRAL decided to follow the same criterion adopted in CISG. Other criteria were considered such as the place of formation or center of gravity of the contract; however, the decision to adopt the criterion of the location of the places of business of the parties was based on the fact that it had been the traditional criterion used by UNCITRAL as well as on the difficulty of applying the other two criteria mentioned. The criterion of the place of formation of the contract may be especially cumbersome to apply to an electronic contract where it might be difficult to determine the place from where a message was sent or received.578 The Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts contains, unlike CISG, a definition of place of...

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