Laws on e-commerce must be harmonised globally or legislative obstacles will hold back international commerce, says a United Nations official.
Dr Gerold Hermann, chief officer of UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), was in New Zealand last week to speak at the Law Commission annual conference about UNCITRAL's model law on e-commerce.
"Essentially, we need to make sure every country works on the same legal basis in moves to stop discrimination against the use of non-paper based systems," he says.
"In many cases, legal requirements demand that a signature or an original be produced, or information stored for a set amount of time - what we're doing is identifying how that can be adapted to e-commerce."
The UNCITRAL model law is being studied by governments worldwide, and is followed in Singapore, Korea and the US. Reaction in New Zealand has been positive.