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Сопутствующие документы Distribution GENERAL UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE LAW ( Twenty-ninth session )
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24 April 1996
Twenty-ninth session
New York, 28 May-14 June 1996
Guide to Enactment of
the UNCITRAL Model Law on Legal Aspects of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
and Related Means of Communication
Report of the Secretary-General
1. Pursuant to a decision taken by the Commission at its twenty-fifth session <1> (1992), the Working Group on Electronic Data Interchange devoted its twenty-fifth to twenty-eighth sessions to the preparation of the draft UNCITRAL Model Law on Legal Aspects of Electronic Data Interchange and Related Means of Communication (hereinafter referred to as "the Model Law"). Reports of those sessions are found in A/CN.9/373, 387, 390 and 406. In preparing the Model Law, the Working Group noted that it would be useful to provide in a commentary additional information concerning the Model Law. In particular, at the twenty-eighth session of the Working Group, during which the text of the draft Model Law was finalized for submission to the Commission, there was general support for a suggestion that the draft Model Law should be accompanied by a guide to assist States in enacting and applying the draft Model Law. The guide, much of which could be drawn from the travaux prйparatoires of the draft Model Law, would also be helpful to EDI users as well as to scholars in the area of EDI. The Working Group noted that, during its deliberations at that session, it had proceeded on the assumption that the draft Model Law would be accompanied by a guide. For example, the Working Group had decided in respect of a number of issues not to settle them in the draft Model Law but to address them in the guide so as to provide guidance to States enacting the draft Model Law. As to the timing and method of preparation of the guide, the Working Group agreed that the Secretariat should prepare a draft and submit it to the Working Group for consideration at its twenty-ninth session (A/CN.9/406, para. 177).
2. At its twenty-ninth session, the Working Group discussed the draft Guide to Enactment (hereinafter referred to as "the draft Guide") of the Model Law as set forth in a note prepared by the Secretariat (A/CN.9/WG.IV/WP.64) and requested the Secretariat to prepare a revised version of the
draft Guide reflecting the decisions made by the Working Group and taking into account the various views, suggestions and concerns that had been expressed at that session. The report of that session is found in A/CN.9/407.
3. At its twenty-eighth session (1995), the Commission adopted the text of articles 1 and 3 to 11 of the draft Model Law. At the close of the discussion on draft article 11, the Commission noted that it had not completed its consideration of the draft Model Law and decided to place the draft Model Law, together with the draft Guide, on the agenda of the current session. It was agreed that the discussion should be resumed at the current session of the Commission with a view to finalizing the text of the Model Law and adopting the Guide at that session.
4. The annex to the present note contains the revised text of the draft Guide prepared by the Secretariat.
Revised text of the draft Guide to Enactment of the
UNCITRAL Model Law on Legal Aspects of Electronic Data Interchange
(EDI) and Related Means of Communication <2>
A. Objectives 22-24 11
B. Scope 25-27 11
C. A "framework" law to be supplemented by technical regulations28-29 12
D. The "functional-equivalent" approach 30-33 12
E. Default rules and mandatory law 34-36 13
F. Assistance from UNCITRAL Secretariat 37-38 14
Article 1.Sphere of application 39-44 15
Article 2.Definitions 45-52 16
Article 3.Interpretation 53-55 18
Article 4Legal recognition of data messages. 56 19
Article 5.Writing 57-62 19
Article 6.Signature 63-71 21
Article 7.Original 72-79 23
Article 8.Admissibility and evidential weight of data messages80-8125
Article 9.Retention of data messages 82-85 25
Article 10.Variation by agreement 86-87 26
Article 11.Attribution of data messages 88-97 27
Article 12.Acknowledgement of receipt 98-101 29
Article 13.Formation and validity of contracts 102-105 30
Article 14.Time and place of dispatch and receipt of data messages106-113 31
1. The UNCITRAL Model Law on Legal Aspects of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Related Means of Communication (hereinafter referred to as "the Model Law") was adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 1996 in furtherance of its mandate to promote the harmonization and unification of international trade law, so as to remove unnecessary obstacles to international trade caused by inadequacies and divergences in the law affecting trade. Over the past quarter of a century, UNCITRAL, whose membership consists of States from all regions and of all levels of economic development, has implemented its mandate by formulating international conventions (the United Nations Conventions on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods, on the Carriage of Goods by Sea, 1978 ("Hamburg Rules"), on the Liability of Operators of Transport Terminals in International Trade, on International Bills of Exchange and International Promissory Notes, and on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit), model laws (the UNCITRAL Model Laws on International Commercial Arbitration, on International Credit Transfers and on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services), the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules, and legal guides (on construction contracts, countertrade transactions and electronic funds transfers).
2. The Mode Law was prepared in response to a major change in the means by which communications are made between parties using computerized or other modern techniques in doing business (sometimes referred to as "trading partners"). The Model Law is intended to serve as a model to countries for the evaluation and modernization of certain aspects of their laws and practices in the field of commercial relationships involving the use of computerized or other modern communication techniques, and for the establishment of relevant legislation where none presently exists. The text of the Model Law is set forth in annex I to the report of UNCITRAL on the work of its twenty-ninth session. <3>
3. The Commission, at its seventeenth session (1984), considered a report of the Secretary-General entitled "Legal aspects of automatic data processing" (A/CN.9/254), which identified several legal issues relating to the legal value of computer records, the requirement of a "writing", authentication, general conditions, liability and bills of lading. The Commission took note of a report of the Working Party on Facilitation of International Trade Procedures (WP.4), which is jointly sponsored by the Economic Commission for Europe and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and is responsible for the development of UN/EDIFACT standard messages. That report suggested that, since the legal problems arising in this field were essentially those of international trade law, the Commission as the core legal body in the field of international trade law appeared to be the appropriate central forum to undertake and co-ordinate the necessary action. <4> The Commission decided to place the subject of the legal implications of automatic data processing to the flow of international trade on its programme of work as a priority item. <5>
4. At its eighteenth session (1985), the Commission had before it a report by the Secretariat entitled "Legal value of computer records" (A/CN.9/265). That report came to the conclusion that, on a global level, there were fewer problems in the use of data stored in computers as evidence in litigation than might have been expected. It noted that a more serious legal obstacle to the use of computers and computer-to-computer telecommunications in international trade arose out of requirements that documents had to be signed or be in paper form. After discussion of the report, the Commission adopted the following recommendation, which expresses some of the principles on which the Model Law is based:
"The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law,
"Noting that the use of automatic data processing (ADP) is about to become firmly established throughout the world in many phases of domestic and international trade as well as in administrative services,
"Noting also that legal rules based upon pre-ADP paper-based means of documenting international trade may create an obstacle to such use of ADP in that they lead to legal insecurity or impede the efficient use of ADP where its use is otherwise justified,
"Noting further with appreciation the efforts of the Council of Europe, the Customs Co-operation Council and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to overcome obstacles to the use of ADP in international trade arising out of these legal rules,
"Considering at the same time that there is no need for a unification of the rules of evidence regarding the use of computer records in international trade, in view of the experience showing that substantial differences in the rules of evidence as they apply to the paper-based system of documentation have caused so far no noticeable harm to the development of international trade,
"Considering also that the developments in the use of ADP are creating a desirability in a number of legal systems for an adaptation of existing legal rules to these developments, having due regard, however, to the need to encourage the employment of such ADP means that would provide the same or greater reliability as paper-based documentation,
"1. Recommends to Governments:
"(a) to review the legal rules affecting the use of computer records as evidence in litigation in order to eliminate unnecessary obstacles to their admission, to be assured that the rules are consistent with developments in technology, and to provide appropriate means for a court to evaluate the credibility of the data contained in those records;
"(b) to review legal requirements that certain trade transactions or trade related documents be in writing, whether the written form is a condition to the enforceability or to the validity of the transaction or document, with a view to permitting, where appropriate, the transaction or document to be recorded and transmitted in computer-readable form;
"(c) to review legal requirements of a handwritten signature or other paper-based method of authentication on trade related documents with a view to permitting, where appropriate, the use of electronic means of authentication;
"(d) to review legal requirements that documents for submission to governments be in writing and manually signed with a view to permitting, where appropriate, such documents to be submitted in computer-readable form to those administrative services which have acquired the necessary equipment and established the necessary procedures;
"2. Recommends to international organizations elaborating legal texts related to trade to take account of the present Recommendation in adopting such texts and, where appropriate, to consider modifying existing legal texts in line with the present Recommendation." <6>
5. That recommendation (hereinafter referred to as the "1985 UNCITRAL Recommendation") was endorsed by the General Assembly in resolution 40/71, paragraph 5(b), of 11 December 1985 as follows:
"The General Assembly,
"... Calls upon Governments and international organizations to take action, where appropriate, in conformity with the Commission's recommendation so as to ensure legal security in the context of the widest possible use of automated data processing in international trade; ...". <7>
6. As was pointed out in several documents and meetings involving the international EDI community, e.g. in meetings of WP. 4, there was a general feeling that, in spite of the efforts made through the 1985 UNCITRAL Recommendation, little progress had been made to achieve the removal of the mandatory requirements in national legislation regarding the use of paper and handwritten signatures. It has been suggested by the Norwegian Committee on Trade Procedures (NORPRO) in a letter to the Secretariat that "one reason for this could be that the 1985 UNCITRAL Recommendation advises on the need for legal update, but does not give any indication of how it could be done". In this vein, the Commission considered what follow-up action to the 1985 UNCITRAL Recommendation could usefully be taken so as to enhance the needed modernization of legislation. The decision by UNCITRAL to formulate model legislation on legal issues of electronic data interchange and related means of communication may be regarded as a consequence of the process that led to the adoption by the Commission of the 1985 UNCITRAL Recommendation.
7. At its twenty-first session (1988), the Commission considered a proposal to examine the need to provide for the legal principles that would apply to the formation of international commercial contracts by electronic means. It was noted that there existed no refined legal structure for the important and rapidly growing field of formation of contracts by electronic means and that future work in that area could help to fill a legal vacuum and to reduce uncertainties and difficulties encountered in practice. The Commission requested the Secretariat to prepare a preliminary study on the topic. <8>
8. At its twenty-third session (1990), the Commission had before it a report entitled "Preliminary study of legal issues related to the formation of contracts by electronic means" (A/CN.9/333). The report summarized work that had been undertaken in the European Communities and in the United States of America on the requirement of a "writing" as well as other issues that had been identified as arising in the formation of contracts by electronic means. The efforts to overcome some of those problems by the use of model communication agreements were also discussed. <9>
9. At its twenty-fourth session (1991), the Commission had before a report entitled "Electronic Data Interchange" (A/CN.9/350). The report described the current activities in the various organizations involved in the legal issues of electronic data interchange (EDI) and analysed the contents of a number of standard interchange agreements already developed or then being developed. It pointed out that such documents varied considerably according to the various needs of the different categories of users they were intended to serve and that the variety of contractual arrangements had sometimes been described as hindering the development of a satisfactory legal framework for the business use of EDI. It suggested that there was a need for a general framework that would identify the issues and provide a set of legal principles and basic legal rules governing communication through EDI. It concluded that such a basic framework could, to a certain extent, be created by contractual arrangements between parties to an EDI relationship and that the existing contractual frameworks that were proposed to the community of EDI users were often incomplete, mutually incompatible, and inappropriate for international use since they relied to a large extent upon the structures of local law.

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