EU Regulation of E-Commerce under the E-Commerce Directive

The EU Commission has stated it believes that between 2001 and 2003, the number of people engaged in business online will have trebled and the number of transactions to buy and sell goods and/or services over the Internet will have multiplied by twenty. The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry estimates that the e-commerce industry is worth in excess of £57 billion in the UK alone. One of the difficulties experienced by businesses that wish to conduct e-commerce is the increasing need to know not just about the legal requirements of their own jurisdiction, but also the legal requirements of those jurisdictions where their customers are located. Whilst for consumers one of the biggest hurdles is the continued lack of trust and confidence in the Internet as a means of purchasing goods and services. In order to assist suppliers and customers to engage in ecommerce, the EU adopted the EU Directive on Electronic Commerce on 8 June 2000 (the “Directive”), which was required to be implemented into Member State law by 16 January 2002. The majority of Member States have not met this deadline no doubt partly due to the uncertainties that exist in implementation of the E-Commerce Directive into their national Member State law. In the UK the ECommerce Directive was implemented by the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, in force 21 August 2002. This briefing paper sets out how the E-Commerce Directive tries to tackle some of the principal issues facing e-commerce.

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