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Galexia to assist ASEAN harmonise electronic commerce - March 2004


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Galexia has won a competitive tender for a groundbreaking two-year project that will streamline electronic commerce in South East Asian nations.

Galexia is partnering with global law firm Baker & McKenzie to develop and implement a harmonised legal infrastructure for electronic commerce in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

The goal of the project is to assist ASEAN to integrate into one market for goods, services and investment by the establishment of a harmonised legal, regulatory and institutional environment for e-commerce. Additionally, there is an opportunity for some of the developing nations within ASEAN to ‘leap-frog’ paper based commerce and develop more efficient electronic transactions for cross-border trade. The project is the first of its kind to be conducted in the Asia Pacific region, and is second only to the European Union in its approach to legislatively facilitate borderless electronic transactions across a group of nations.

This project is funded by the ASEAN Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) - Program Stream. AADCP is funded by the Australian Government, through AusAID and implemented in close collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and is managed by ACIL Australia Pty Ltd.

e-ASEAN Framework

The e-ASEAN framework agreement states that members shall ‘adopt electronic commerce regulatory and legislative frameworks that create trust and confidence for consumers and facilitate the transformation of businesses towards the development of e-ASEAN’.

It is envisaged the legal infrastructure may take the form of a regionally agreed model for consistent national laws supported by an appropriate infrastructure that will legally recognise the effectiveness of online transactions and facilitate their enforceability.

A harmonised legal infrastructure presents a great opportunity for technological and commercial advancement. The agreed framework and resulting laws will underpin increasing confidence in and use of electronic commerce by businesses, governments and consumers, both within and beyond ASEAN. To be effective beyond ASEAN the framework will reflect the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001).

Case study (2008)

Galexia has completed a case study of the Harmonisation of E-Commerce Legal Infrastructure in ASEAN project. The case study illustrates the progress made during the four years of the program (2004-2008), with eight of the ten ASEAN Member Countries having enacted e-commerce laws, and the remaining two having draft laws.

Project case study »

Project Extension (2006)

In January 2006, Galexia won the opportunity to work further in the ASEAN region by undertaking work to provide an extension to the ASEAN project. This project extension will focus on harmonising electronic contracting and Online Dispute Resolution legal infrastructures in the region.

The goal of the project is to assist ASEAN to integrate into one market for goods, services and investment by the establishment of a harmonised legal, regulatory and institutional environment for electronic contracting and dispute resolution. The development and implementation of harmonised legal infrastructures for electronic contracting and dispute resolution will facilitate the development of e-commerce by providing users with common methods for completing electronic contracting steps, and a common framework for resolving electronic commerce disputes.

The project will produce the following outputs:

  • A compilation of discussion papers focussing on ASEAN and international developments in electronic contracting, Online Dispute Resolution and jurisdiction of legal frameworks;
  • Conducting surveys on the electronic contracting and Online Dispute Resolution legal landscapes in ASEAN member countries;
  • The development of a proposed framework for harmonised legal infrastructure for electronic contracting and dispute resolution; and
  • The compilation of implementation guides to support the proposed framework.
UNCITRAL Convention of Electronic Contracting (2005)

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has finalised its Convention on electronic contracting following over three years of deliberations. The Convention has been formally titled the Convention on the use of electronic communications in international contracts. It will be presented at the UN General Assembly meeting later this year, where if adopted it will become the first UN Convention addressing legal issues created by the digital environment.

The UNCITRAL Convention seeks to enhance the legal certainty and commercial predictability of international electronic transactions by setting out a number of interpretive rules for the use of electronic communications in negotiating and forming contracts.

The new Convention is likely to establish a default standard for electronic transactions. Even if a country does not ratify the Convention (once it is brought into force) it will still influence the terms of a transaction; particularly where the other contracting party is from a country that is a signatory to the Convention.

The Convention on electronic contracting also seeks to harmonise national law regarding how electronic contracts can be made. Harmonised domestic legislation will overcome the legal uncertainty in international business transactions where contracting parties are from different countries. A more certain legal environment will increase confidence in conducting electronic transactions, and in turn participation in e-commerce.

The Convention follows on from earlier work of the UNCITRAL Working Group on Electronic Commerce who released the Model Law on Electronic Commerce in 1996 and the Model Law on Electronic Signatures in 2001 (see below).

UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001)

It is intended that Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001) will operate as a supplement, or an extension to the Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996).

Despite the wider adoption of the Model Law on Electronic Commerce, within ASEAN the Model Law on Electronic Signatures has only been adopted by Thailand.

Thailand enacted dedicated electronic commerce legislation in 2001 at which point it was convenient to incorporate both the 2001 and 1996 Model Laws. By this time other nations had enacted electronic commerce legislation based on the 1996 UNCITRAL Model Law, and have generally not made any subsequent alterations to their domestic legislation. There are a few countries that have adopted the Electronic Commerce Model Law after 2001 without adopting the Model Law on Electronic Signatures.

In the interests of promoting party autonomy many provisions of UNCITRAL’s Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001) can be contracted out of or varied by the mutual agreement of the parties. A flexible and expansive approach helps to facilitate the development of new techniques and technologies.

The Model Law on Electronic Signatures also promotes the same functional and media neutrality of its 1996 predecessor by providing that electronic signatures in any form should be treated equally provided they meet the minium functional specifications required to guarantee the signature’s integrity.

Generally, the Model Law on Electronic Signatures provides a broad legislative framework of sufficient detail to enable national governments to fill in the procedural ‘blanks’ needed to tailor the legislation to their national circumstances.

UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996)

The Model Law on Electronic Commerce is based on two principles:

1. Functional equivalence - paper documents and electronic transactions are treated equally by the law (Article 5); and
2. Media neutrality - the law does not discriminate between different forms of technology (Article 1 read with Article 2(a)).

These two principles are pivotal in ensuring that electronic transactions receive universal recognition. Transparency and predictability are the other desirable qualities in electronic commerce legislation - these will minimise legal uncertainty between contracting parties.

Existing laws in Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei and Thailand, are to a large extent based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce.

Website links

Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
http://www.ausaid.gov.au/

ASEAN Secretariat (Jakarta)
http://www.aseansec.org

ASEAN Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP)
http://www.aadcp.org

About Galexia

Galexia has expertise and experience in all aspects of electronic commerce law and provides expert analysis of PKI, authentication and digital signature regulatory issues to a range of local and international clients.

The Galexia team matches project management experience with legal expertise and technical understanding.

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Galexia delivers specialist management consulting services to our clients. Galexia has expert consultants in privacy, authentication, electronic commerce and new technology. We leverage our legal, business and technical knowledge to deliver successful business strategies to a diverse range of clients.

Our focus is on research, strategy and advice on electronic commerce, digital signatures, identification, authentication, security and privacy in Australia and the Asia Pacific.


Cardno ACIL Australia is the ASEAN Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) Program Stream manager

This project is funded by the ASEAN Australia Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) - Program Stream. AADCP is funded by the Australian Government, through AusAID and implemented in close collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and is managed by Cardno Acil Pty Ltd.

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Related Galexia services and solutions

  • Specialised Legal and Regulatory Consulting. Read more »
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  • Identity Management and Authentication - Strategic Consulting. Read more »