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February 11, 2011

Electronic Transactions Amendment Bill

The Electronic Transactions Amendment Bill 2011 has been introduced by the Government into the House of Representatives.

The Bill will update Australia’s electronic transactions regime to reflect internationally recognised legal standards on e-commerce and will enable Australia to accede to the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts 2005.

Australia’s existing electronic commerce laws will be amended in relation to:

•electronic signatures
•the determination of a party’s location in an electronic environment;
•the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; and
•the use of automated message systems for contract formation;
•when an offer is an invitation to treat.

New section 15B provides that a proposal to form a contract, other than a proposal addressed to specific persons, is considered to be merely an invitation to make offers, unless the contrary intention is clearly indicated by the person making the proposal.

The intention of this provision is to transpose the common law notion of an invitation to treat into an electronic environment to confirm that a trader who advertises goods or services on the internet, or through other generally accessible communication systems or open networks, is considered to be only inviting those who access the site to make offers, unless there is a clear indication by the trader of an intention to be bound.

UPDATE 12 May 2011: The Bill has been passed by both Houses
UPDATE: Royal Assent 25 May 2011

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Posted 11th February 2011 by David Jacobson in Business Planning, Financial Services, Web/Tech