The Federal Government has moved to bring Australia’s e-commerce laws into the 21st century with the introduction of the Electronic Transactions Amendment Bill 2011 into the House of Representatives.
The bill, which amendments the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 seeks to align Australia’s electronic transactions legislation with technological change and, according to Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, support and promote firms and business operating in the digital economy.
“The bill will provide increased legal certainty in trade by electronic means, and encourage further growth of electronic contracting both domestically and internationally,” he said.
According to McClelland specific changes arising out of the bill include making a contract legally effective if it is formed in an automated message system, and refining rules around determining whether an electronic signature is reliable.
The bill also seeks to align Australia’s law with the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts 2005, which itself seeks to address legal issues arising from the evolution of the digital economy.
“Accession to the convention requires amendments to the domestic electronic transaction regime,” McClelland said.
“Implementation of the convention will facilitate trade by offering practical solutions for issues arising from the use of electronic communications in the formation or performance of contracts between parties located in different countries.”
Through accession to the convention, the efficiency of Australian commercial activities and promotion of economic development internationally would also be improved, McClelland claimed.
Eighteen countries, including Singapore and the Republic of Korea, had signed the convention to date.