UNCITRAL Adopts Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records

UNCITRAL has now adopted a model law on electronic transferable records. See the press release below. The full text will be available online shortly at the URL shown at the end of the document.

Canadians showed little interest in this project while it was being developed, so Canada’s attendance at the working group meetings was intermittent.

Does it sound more interesting now that it is final? Would your clients benefit from an internationally accepted law on the topic? This UNCITRAL text is the best that will be available in the foreseeable future.

Should steps be taken to implement it here? If so, would it be a matter of federal jurisdiction, as dealing with (electronic) bills and notes, or provincial, as dealing with property and civil rights within the province – or both?

Here is an analysis of the project as it progressed.

Here are the working documents during the life of the project.

Here are the documents presented to the Commission this month for adoption. See A/CN.9/897.. and … /920- 922

Link to press release on UNIS website:
UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE VIENNA (UNIS)

For information only – not an official document
UNIS/L/251
17 July 2017
UN Commission on International Trade Law adopts the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records

VIENNA, 17 July (UN Information Service) –, The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (the “MLETR”) on 13 July at its fiftieth session in Vienna.

The MLETR legally enables the use of electronic transferable records that are functionally equivalent to transferable documents and instruments including bills of lading, bills of exchange, promissory notes and warehouse receipts.

The use of electronic transferable records may bring a number of benefits to electronic commerce including speed and security of transmission as well as the possibility of reusing the information contained therein. Electronic transferable records may be particularly relevant for certain business areas such as transport and logistics and finance (fintech). Moreover, their use allows for the establishment a fully paperless trade environment.

The MLETR sets forth the requirements for the use of an electronic transferable record. In particular, it defines control as the functional equivalent of possession of a transferable document or instrument. The MLETR also provides guidance on the assessment of the reliability of the method used to manage the electronic transferable record, on change of medium (electronic to paper and the reverse), and on cross-border aspects, among other items.

The MLETR builds upon fundamental principles underlying existing UNCITRAL texts in the area of electronic commerce. In particular, the adoption of the principle of functional equivalence allows the MLETR to operate without affecting the substantive law applicable to transferable documents and instruments, and the adoption of the principle of technology neutrality allows to accommodate the use of all methods and technologies, including distributed ledgers (blockchain).

The MLETR is accompanied by an Explanatory Note that provides background information to assist States in enacting its provisions and to offer guidance to other users of the text.

The work on the preparation of the MLETR was undertaken by UNCITRAL Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) from its 45th session in 2011 until its 54th session in 2016. The final version of the MLETR will be made available at http://www.uncitral.org/uncitral/en/uncitral_texts/electronic_commerce.html.

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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 , and maintains a website at www.uncitral.org.

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