Electronic Transactions Acts
The main impacts of the Electronic Transactions Acts are:
- transactions are not invalid simply because they rely on electronic communications or electronic signatures
- the establishment of guidelines for determining the time and place of despatch and receipt of an electronic communication
- allowing for the electronic recording of information and retention of electronic documents where legislation requires information to be recorded or retained in writing
- provision for the use of electronic forms of authentication instead of a handwritten signature subject to certain restrictions
- clarification of the traditional rules of contract formation to address the needs of electronic commerce, including the recognition of automated message systems, clarification of an invitation to treat and rules to determine the location of the parties.
The rules in the Electronic Transactions Acts are intended to facilitate electronic commerce, but do not apply to all legislation or transactions. Each Electronic Transactions Act lists legislation or types of transactions which are exempt from the rules set down in that Act or the Regulations under each Act.
If legislation or types of transactions are "exempted" from the Acts, means of facilitating electronic commerce must be found in other legal rules. These may include the exempted legislation itself or the general law applying to an exempted transaction.
The Regulations to the Federal Act were amended in 2013 to repeal several exemptions so that the facilitative provisions in the Federal Act would apply to more legislation and transactions. This was seen as necessary in light of current and emerging digital channels and consumer preferences.