Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Lance C. Ching


The federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, effective on October 1, 2000, established that a signature, contract, or record related to an interstate or foreign transaction cannot be denied legal effect simply because it is in electronic form, subject to certain exceptions. For much the same purpose, the European Parliament and Council adopted the Directive on a Community Framework for Electronic Signatures in December 1999.

This Note discusses the approaches taken by the United States and the European Union toward establishing the validity of electronic signatures. It provides a brief overview of the history of electronic commerce and legislation intended to promote its development, and discusses the current and proposed legislation of the United States. The Note then analyzes the current and proposed legislation of the European Union, and concludes by comparing the two models, focusing on areas where the two approaches differ and discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of both.