The term “e-commerce” (short for “electronic commerce”) refers to transactions concluded over the internet or other electronic data interchange system for the supply of goods or services. It includes transactions between businesses (often referred to as “B2B”) and those between businesses and consumers (“B2C”).
So far as lawyers are concerned, the significant attributes if e-commerce are summarized by the acronym “GAP”. That is to say, it is “global”, “automated” and “paperless”.
- “Global” means that the parties to an e-commerce transaction could be anywhere in the world. The possibility that the parties may be in different countries or political subdivisions of the same country (such as England and Scotland or Texas and California) give rise to jurisdiction, choice of law, choice of forum and consumer protection and other regulatory issues.
- “Automated” means that transactions can be completed without any direct human intervention such as the purchase or sale of shares when the index meets a particular point or at the other end of the scale a computer in a domestic refrigerator places an order for milk when sensors in the fridge indicate that supplies are sunning low.
- “Paperless” means that the evidence prescribed by statute that a transaction has been approved by the parties is often missing.
Those attributes required intergovernmental co-ordination giving rise to legislation at European Union and national level.
These chambers specialize in the interpretation and application of that legislation. Jane Lambert has a considerable interest in this area of the law having contributed to the literature of the subject. Here are some examples of the work that she has done in this area:
- Advising on the legal issues likely to affect an online travel service
- Drafting agreements for an internet auction site
- Advising an accommodation service for overseas students, and
- Advising on legal issues and drafting agreements for an online art gallery.
Whenever there is a significant development of the law relating to e-commerce, or whenever we discover a point of law that we would like to share with the industry and its other professional advisors, we will at least blog it. If we think it is sufficiently important we may even publish an article or special feature on the topic. Also, from time to time we hold conferences and seminars on e-commerce.
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