The Legal Framework for Electronic Contracts in Ethiopia with Special Emphasis on General Contract Law

Source: The Legal Framework for Electronic Contracts in Ethiopia with Special Emphasis on General Contract Law

Gebrehiwot Enteha

Abstract:

Contracts are obviously the heart of any transaction. The way contracts are concluded and executed is affected by the societal level of industrial and technological developments. Modem electronic communications, especially Internet, are widely employed at any contract phase. But contract laws were legislated at the time when Internet communications were unknown. As a result, conventional contract laws exhibit legal gap to regulate modem electronic contracts. In the same fashion , the Ethiopian Civil Code isn ‘t comprehensive enough to accommodate electronic contracts. Electronic contracts produce strange practices to the Civil Code on Contracts in General. Due to that, the validity of electronic contracts is still in question under the Code. Features of electronic contracts like consummation of consent, usage of automated agents, attribution of communications, input errors, time of contract completion, formality requirements, variation and notice delivery, privity of contract principle, admissibility and parole evidence rule of electronic records, aren’t addressed by the Code. Laws necessary to accompany wide usage of electronic contracts are not compatible with electronic communications in our country. Electronic contracts seek secure communication on the Internet highway but laws ensuring security of network communications are inadequate. Laws on consumer protection don’t protect consumers of electronic contracting. Internet Service Providers are the gateways of electronic contracting, but their civil liability to users of their functions is still not updated. Electronic contracting makes the privacy of contracting parties unguaranteed. The existing privacy protection laws don’t consider new privacy violation mechanisms over Internet communications. With this in mind, this work is meant to make a humble attempt at showing the legal gaps in the area and coming up with ·some points of recommendation for policy and law reform.

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