House of Lords Committee calls for evidence about Electronic Documents Bill

December 21, 2022

The House of Lords has established a Special Public Bill Committee on the Electronic Trade Documents Bill. The bill ends the need for paper-based trading documents and is based on the work of the Law Commission.

Special Public Bill Committees take written and oral evidence on a bill before considering it. Law Commission bills are normally committed to Special Public Bill Committees and the Electronic Trade Documents Bill was committed on 30 November 2022. The Committee says that it would welcome views about the provisions contained within the Bill, and the other relevant matters. In particular, the Committee would welcome views on:

  • whether respondents agree with the proposed reforms and whether the reforms achieve what they are intended to;
  • whether the UK government was right to extend the Bill to the whole of the UK;
  • whether the application of the Bill to the whole of the UK sufficiently takes account of any differences there may be with the laws of Scotland;
  • the interoperability of the Bill with national and international regimes, in particular the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records from the United National Commission on International Trade Law (MLETR);
  • the reliability and security implications of moving to an electronic system, including:

  1. the immutability of electronic documents
  2. the potential risks from the ability to create multiple copies of a document;
  3. the reliability of electronic signatures; and
  4. the benefits and risks of a list of trusted signatures and reliable systems;

  • whether the list in Clause 2(2) of what constitutes an “electronic trade document” is right;
  • whether the emphasis on “possession” and its development by the courts in the UK rather than “exclusive control” is the best approach (compared with Article 11 of MLETR and section 16 I of the Singapore Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Act 2021; and
  • whether the Bill is future proofed.

The deadline for responses to the call for evidence is 10 January 2023.