A legal framework for the treatment of input errors in electronic contracts
Ramokanate, Lehlohonolo Lucas
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The central task in this study is to discover and analyse the legal framework applicable to input errors in electronic contracts. The study analyses the law of South Africa, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (hereinafter referred to as the ECT Act) to be more specific, and the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (2005) (hereinafter referred to as the UNECIC). The ECT Act is the statute regulating electronic communications and transactions in South Africa. It was passed by the South African parliament in 2002. Almost all provisions of the ECT Act are based on the United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996) .However, section 20 thereof, which deals with input errors, was not based on the Model law, but on provisions from statutes of leading jurisdictions.1 The UNECIC is a new international convention by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (hereinafter referred to as UNCITRAL). The Convention came into operation on the 1st of March 2013,2 and is the first United Nations convention that deals with electronic communications. Article 12 thereof deals with automated transactions, and section 14 with input errors. These are the two provisions that shall be analysed in relation to the UNECIC in this work. With the UNECIC having come into full operation, there is a real need to harmonise domestic laws with it. In various jurisdictions, including Singapore3 and Australia,4 the statutes governing electronic communications have been amended with some provisions of the UNECIC. Article 14 is one of the provisions of the UNECIC which have been domesticated in both jurisdictions. Judged against the UNECIC, a number of issues relating to input errors in the ECT Act are inconsistent with the new international standards embodied in the UNECIC. This work recommends that South Africa must adopt the UNECIC, and secondly that some of the provisions dealing with input errors in the ECT Act must be aligned with the UNECIC by amendment.
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