WORKING GROUP IV: ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
Working Group IV has maintained its current focus area of electronic commerce since 1997.
In 2022 the Working Group commenced it deliberations on: “Legal issues related to the digital economy – proposal for legislative work on electronic transactions and the use of artificial intelligence and automation”.
In 2021 the Working completed its draft of the Model Law of Identity Management and Trust Services.
Working Group IV has made several important contributions to e-commerce regulation, including by producing the following documents:
Model Law: UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001)
Explanatory Text: Promoting confidence in electronic commerce: legal issues on international use of electronic authentication and signature methods (2007)
Explanatory Text: Notes on the main issues of cloud computing contracts (2019)
Identity Management and Trust Services
Since its 48th session in 2015, WG IV has focused on legal issues relating to identity management ("IdM") and trust services. Included in this process was the hosting of an expert group meeting on the legal aspects of IdM and trust services. Consequently, WG IV distilled its focus to include the following issues:
mutual recognition requirements and mechanisms;
certification of IdM and trust services;
levels of assurance for IdM and trust services;
institutional cooperation mechanisms;
obligation to identify
data retention; and
the supervision of service providers.
As with other Working Groups, WG IV maintains an online record of its latest work and agendas for forthcoming meetings. The relevant information is available here.
This page was last updated in February 2022.
There are several key texts Working Group IV has prepared the following texts in furtherance of its mandate on electronic transactions.
Download them below by clicking on the URLs:
The Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) aims to enable the legal use of electronic transferable records both domestically and across borders. The MLETR applies to electronic transferable records that are functionally equivalent to transferable documents or instruments. Transferable documents or instruments are paper-based documents or instruments that entitle the holder to claim the performance of the obligation indicated therein and that allow the transfer of the claim to that performance by transferring possession of the document or instrument. Transferable documents or instruments typically include bills of lading, bills of exchange, promissory notes and warehouse receipts.
The Model Law and Explanatory Note is available at:
The Model Law on Electronic Signatures (MLES) aims to enable and facilitate the use of electronic signatures by establishing criteria of technical reliability for the equivalence between electronic and hand-written signatures. Thus, the MLES may assist States in establishing a modern, harmonized and fair legislative framework to address effectively the legal treatment of electronic signatures and give certainty to their status.
Download them below by clicking on the URLs:
Working Group IV has prepared one key standalone text in respect of Cloud Computing.
Download it below by clicking on the URL:
Identity Management & Trust Services
The Working Group completed its deliberation on the text in relation to Identity Management and Trust Services in 2021. The draft will be formally presented to the Commission in July 2022. It is anticipated that the Commission will approve the recommendation for the Model Law of Identity Management and Trust Services. The text is expected to be available after the Commission meeting.
The main objective of the draft instrument is to address these obstacles through the development of uniform legal rules. These rules serve several purposes: to increase efficiency; to lower transactions costs; to increase the security and legal certainty of electronic transactions thus establishing trust; and to contribute to bridging the digital divide through harmonized solutions.
The last twenty years have seen an exponential growth in the value of online commercial activity. Global e-commerce grew from $64 billion in 1999 to $29 trillion in 2017. This growth coincides with increased access to the Internet among individuals and businesses. The percentage of households with Internet access grew from 35 per cent in 2002 to 83.6 per cent in 2017. The availability of e-government (including trade-related services), e-banking and e-payments has increased accordingly. This growth builds on trust – and needs to be supported by a sense of trust – in the online environment. One important component of online trust is the ability to identify each party in a reliable manner, especially in the absence of any prior in-person interaction. Addressing the legal aspects of identity management at a global level has the potential to bridge these different solutions and to encourage interoperability between IdM systems.