Legal Updates

E-Business: B2B e-Trade Rules

Business-to-business (B2B) electronic contracting has gained a lot of attention in recent years as a way to improve traditional paper contracting. The increased use of electronic communications has created a need for international contracts to be concluded by electronic means.

A controversial Convention between the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITL) and the European Commission Convention aims to harmonise (B2B) electronic contracting. UNCITL claims that the Convention applies to the use of electronic communications in connection with the formation or performance of a contract between business parties whose places of business are in different States.
Some argue that such a Convention takes European integration too far and is unnecessary in the UK where common law rules allow for flexibility in contract formation. This Convention may be more useful to continental legal systems, which are procedure-based and may be less flexible.

The US International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says companies it had consulted about the Convention generally favoured harmonisation as a means of reducing legal uncertainty in online contracting. However, the companies also stressed that the principles of freedom of contract and party autonomy should be very strongly anchored in the Convention in order to avoid misunderstandings, and to ensure that business has confidence in it.

If you require further information contact us.


© RT COOPERS, 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.


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