Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


48.  PROPOSAL FOR A DIRECTIVE ON CERTAIN LEGAL ASPECTS OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE IN THE INTERNAL MARKET

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Michael Wills MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Firms, Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry

  Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) has considered the draft Directive on electronic commerce and your Explanatory Memorandum.

  The Committee notes that your consultation document, Building Confidence in Electronic Commerce, contemplates the introduction of legislation to promote E-commerce in the current Parliamentary session. Can you please explain the extent of any overlap between your proposed legislation and the draft Directive?

  The Committee welcomes your commitment to ensuring a high level of consumer protection and legal certainty for service providers. We would be grateful if you could provide a summary of the results of the Government's consultation and indicate, in the light of the views expressed, whether you consider that the Commission's proposal meets the needs of service providers while securing a satisfactory level of protection for consumers.

  The Committee may wish to raise further points once it has received your response, and intends to hold the draft Directive under scrutiny.

18 March 1999

Letter from Michael Wills MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Firms, Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 18 March outlining the comments to date of Sub-Committee E on the draft Directive on electronic commerce and my explanatory memorandum of 8 February.

  You ask about the extent of any overlap between the Government's proposed legislation envisaged in our consultation document, Building Confidence in Electronic Commerce, and the draft Directive itself. I will not be in a position to give you a difinitive answer until we introduce the Bill later in the Session. One of the purposes of the present consultation is to seek views on how the scope of the UK's legislation might be broadened to address other areas key to promoting confidence in electronic commerce (see paragraph 23 of the consultation document). An example of the sort of issue that might bring overlap between the Bill and the draft Directive would be the legal validity of electronic contracts. If such an overlap does arise, we will of course ensure the compatibility of the domestic and the EC legislation.

  Comments on the draft Directive are still coming in, and I am anxious to take account of as many of these as possible in assessing how well the Commission's proposal meets the needs both of consumers and service providers and in formulating a policy to address any areas of concern. I should certainly be able to provide you with a summary of the results of the consultation by the end of April, if not before.

1 April 1999

Letter from Michael Wills MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Firms, Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry, to Lord Tordoff Chairman of the Committee

  Further to my letter of 1 April, I have pleasure in enclosing, as requested, a summary of the comments we have received to date on the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on Electronic Commerce.

  The proposed Directive was broadly welcomed by respondents—but it is clear from their comments that there are still several areas which need more work, most fundamentally, perhaps, the clarity of the drafting and some of the key definitions to ensure the scope of the Directive is clear. We will now be working up a more detailed negotiating position in the light of the comments. We will also be working with service providers and rightsholders to ensure that their respective interests are met by the liability provisions—and to ensure that these deal appropriately with different types of illegal content.

  In addition, we will want to make sure that the provisions of the Directive, in particular some of the information requirements, are proportionate and useful to those they are aimed at. Some seem aimed at particular types of information society services (notably websites), and seem less well-suited to others. We will be considering which of the provisions are necessary to secure a satisfactory level of protection for consumers, and which might also be of benefit in respect of business-to-business transactions. It seems likely that we will need to introduce greater precision throughout much of the Directive—both to provide legal certainty for service providers and to ensure consumer confidence and a high level of consumer protection.

29 April 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Michael Wills MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Firms, Trade and Industry, Department of Trade and Industry

  Thank you for your letters of 1 and 29 April and the summary of comments your Department has received on the Commission's proposal for a Directive on Electronic Commerce. They were considered by Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) at its meeting on 9 June.

  The Committee maintains a keen interest in E-commerce and wishes to be kept informed of any further developments. The Committee decided to clear the document from scrutiny but reserves the right to return to the substance of the proposal once the Commission's amended version is published.

10 June 1999


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999