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UNCITRAL adopts Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records

Electronic Transferable Records
Paperless Trade
electronic bills of lading
Warehouse Receipts
International Trade
Marina Comninos
Digital Trade

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) recently announced it has adopted the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) at its fiftieth session in Vienna.

The news marks a major milestone for paperless trade, with international law now catching up to existing business practices. Electronic bills of lading (eB/Ls) have been used by the industry since 2010, relying on contractual mechanisms for their validity. 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 MLETR has the potential to further accelerate the adoption of eB/Ls, with all the efficiency and security gains which electronic commerce entails. While contractual mechanisms will be required to ensure the legal validity of eB/Ls pending enactment of MLETR by a sufficiently broad cross-section of maritime and trading nations, the adoption of the Law by UNCITRAL clearly indicates that the international trade community recognizes and endorses the path to paperless trade.

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, with essDOCS COO Marina Comninos actively participating in its development by bringing real-world Digital Trade expertise to key Group sessions over the past 6 years.

UNCITRAL is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, tasked with modernizing and harmonizing international business rules, including the formulation of conventions and model laws which are acceptable worldwide.

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