UNCITRAL Works on Electronic Transferable Records (And Identity Management)

You may recall that UNCITRAL’s Working Group on Electronic Commerce meets at the end of October to continue work on electronic transferable records (like bills of lading, warehouse receipts, negotiable instruments etc) — documents that have to be unique to keep their value.

The Secretariat has just published the main working papers for the meeting – WP 118 and WP.118/Add1. They are on the UNCITRAL site in the working group document section under E-commerce (of course): http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/commission/working_groups/4Electronic_Commerce.html.

The US, Spain and Colombia have also submitted their overview of the issues, as WP.119.

In addition, the ABA’s task force on identity management have submitted a paper on that topic, as WP.120. Not only can ID management be a separate topic, but it relates directly to authentication questions that arise with electronic transferable records. One has to be very confident of the identity of the person who controls the record and the person to whom it is being transferred, to make the system work.

I suppose that some of you won’t want to sit down and read all these documents from start to finish in order to comment, even with the knowledge that members of some national delegations may see the comments. Your chance to influence the course of international law!

In that case, I could direct your attention to a matter dealt with at paragraphs 42 – 49 of WP.118/Add.1 about how one can transfer paper documents to electronic form, and vice versa, without losing their reliability and thus their legal effect. Does the description sound right to you? Do your clients have an interest in ever doing that?

More later, perhaps, but feel free to comment on anything in the papers. I have raised before whether the need for the project had been demonstrated. WP.119 addresses that question directly.

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