UNCITRAL Model Laws – an overview


We have mentioned UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Model Laws on numerous occasions in the past.


In this blog, we wish to concentrate on three in particular:

-       Model Law on Electronic Commerce (MLEC)

-       Model Law on Electronic Transferrable Records (MLETR)

-       Model Law on Electronic Signatures (MLES)


The MLEC purports to enable and facilitate commerce conducted using electronic means by providing national legislators with a set of internationally acceptable rules aimed at removing legal obstacles and increasing legal predictability for electronic commerce. In particular, it is intended to overcome obstacles arising from statutory provisions that may not be varied contractually by providing equal treatment to paper-based and electronic information. Such equal treatment is essential for enabling the use of paperless communication, thus fostering efficiency in international trade.


The MLETR aims to enable the legal use of electronic transferable records both domestically and across borders. The MLETR applies to electronic transferable records that are functionally equivalent to transferable documents or instruments. Transferable documents or instruments are paper-based documents or instruments that entitle the holder to claim the performance of the obligation indicated therein and that allow the transfer of the claim to that performance by transferring possession of the document or instrument. Transferable documents or instruments typically include bills of lading, bills of exchange, promissory notes and warehouse receipts.


The MLES aims to enable and facilitate the use of electronic signatures by establishing criteria of technical reliability for the equivalence between electronic and hand-written signatures. Thus, the MLES may assist in establishing a modern, harmonised and fair legislative framework to address effectively the legal treatment of electronic signatures and give certainty to their status.


A key aim of the ICC Banking Commission Digital Trade Roadmap is to promote adoption of these Model Laws. 


Many of the definitions in the ICC eRules (eUCP version 2.0 & eURC version 1.0) originated from these Model Laws, and a similar approach is being followed in the drafting of the new ICC Uniform Rules for Digital Trade Transactions (URDTT). 

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