For information only - not an official document
17 January 2014
VIENNA, 17 January (UN Information Service) - With its acceptance of the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (the Electronic Communications Convention), the Russian Federation becomes the fourth State Party to the Convention. The Convention will enter into force for the Russian Federation on 1 August 2014.
The Electronic Communications Convention aims to enhance legal certainty and commercial predictability where electronic communications are used in relation to international contracts. It addresses, among other things, the determination of a party's location in an electronic environment; the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; and the use of automated message systems for contract formation. It also provides the criteria to be used for establishing functional equivalence between electronic communications and paper documents - including "original" paper documents - as well as between electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures. In doing so, the Electronic Communications Convention builds on the fundamental legal principles and provisions contained in other UNCITRAL texts on electronic commerce, namely, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce, already adopted in some 50 jurisdictions.
The goals of the Electronic Communications Convention include: removing legal obstacles to the use of electronic communications that may arise from the terms of international agreements concluded before the widespread use of electronic media; fostering the modernization and harmonization of existing e-commerce legislation; and providing jurisdictions that have not yet adopted laws on electronic transactions with a modern set of rules for both domestic and international application. Thus, for instance, the adoption of the Electronic Communications Convention removes any doubt about the acceptability of using electronic communications to satisfy written form requirements arising under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 1958 (the "New York Convention") and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, 1980 ("CISG").
The Dominican Republic, Honduras, the Russian Federation and Singapore are States parties to the Electronic Communications Convention. Fifteen other States have signed the Convention, but not yet ratified it, and several other States, including Australia and the Republic of Congo, have started the procedure for becoming a party. The Convention is open indefinitely for accession and ratification. Further information on the Convention is available on the UNCITRAL website at www.uncitral.org.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law. It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development. UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna, Austria.
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