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Electronic Trade Documents Bill

On 12th October 2022, the Government introduced an important piece of legislation, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill, that will allow the digitization of trade documents.

The Bill, drafted by the Law Commission, is a succinct and straightforward piece of legislation. Legal experts were invited by the Government to make recommendations for reform to allow for legal recognition of trade documents such as bills of lading and bills of exchange in electronic form. This Bill is the result of that work and when passed could consolidate English law as the basis for international trade law for decades to come.

In 2017 the UN published a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) and so far some 7 or 8 jurisdictions world-wide have adopted it in full -Singapore to the fore- but dozens of others have it under consideration. The G7 countries have agreed to cooperate on its wider adoption and of those it is Germany and the UK who are farthest advanced on it.

When this Bill becomes law it will instantly be easier, cheaper, faster, and more secure for businesses to trade internationally.

The main benefits of the Bill will be:

  • increasing efficiency and lowering trade administration costs because processing electronic documents is faster and cheaper than paper equivalents,
  • increasing the security and compliance of trade by utilising the transparency and traceability benefits electronic documents offer and
  • realising environmental benefits from reduced use of paper and courier emissions.

Chris is a huge supporter of the Bill and has written more about it on his blog and for various other publications.

Electronic Trade Documents Bill blog also published in CityAm

Read the Bill on the Parliament website

Text of the Bill

Related articles:

Government introduces Electronic Trade Documents Bill, Computer Weekly

UK’s ‘ground-breaking’ digital trade bill progresses, Global Government Fintech

Parliament paves the way for blockchain with digital documents bill, CityAm

Electronic Trade Documents Bill introduced to Parliament, Law Commission

Paperless trade plans put before Parliament, BBC