The 'e-compatibility' of ICC rules

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London, 7th November 2018

By David Meynell, Senior Technical Adviser to ICC Banking Commission 

The ICC Banking Commission, in June 2017, announced the launch of the “Digitalisation of Trade Finance Working Group”.

A sub-group, chaired by Dave Meynell, was formed to address the ‘ec-ompatibility’ of ICC rules for trade finance with the focus on evaluating ICC rules, such as the UCP, in order to assess e-compatibility and ensure they are ‘e-compliant’.

As a first step, members of the ‘e-compatibility’ working group were asked to comment on a review of all existing ICC rules in respect of digital data.

Subsequent to the initial evaluation, it was concluded that two pieces of work needed to be taken forward:

  • Update the existing version 1.1 of eUCP in order to ensure continued digital compatibility.
  • Draft eURC in order to ensure continued digital compatibility for presentation of electronic records under Collections.

As stated in the introduction to the ‘ICC Guide to the eUCP’, it was recognised that future changes in technology would impact the eUCP, making it inevitable that an update/revision would be required to accommodate maturing practices and technologies. The eUCP was intentionally developed with version numbers in order that it could be updated regularly and without impacting upon UCP. This also reduces the time required to produce an update/revision. The same principle will apply to the drafting of eURC.

The gap analysis carried out by the ‘e-compatibility’ work-stream identified a number of initial areas that require increased focus. These included, inter-alia:

  • Means of presentation with regard to the scope of eUCP.
  • Definition of the term ‘corruption’ when applied to an electronic record.
  • Definition of a ‘data processing system’.
  • Clarification of the process of ‘re-presentation’.
  • Highlight that banks do not deal with the underlying goods or services.
  • Period of time for examination.
  • Disclaimers.
  • Absence of a ‘Force Majeure’ article.

In addition, pursuant to initial comments from members of the Working Group, it became apparent that a number of ‘knowledge gaps’ exist in respect of existing wording. These included, inter-alia:

  • Minimum standards.
  • Authentication of Electronic Records.
  • Notice of Completeness.
  • Electronic Address.
  • Format of Electronic Records.
  • Period for notice of refusal.
  • Originality.

Three sets of draft rules have already been reviewed by ICC National Committees, and a 4th draft was sent out in November 2018.

The aim is to provide a final draft of both sets of rules in February 2019, with the target date for completion being April 2019, prior to the ICC Banking Commission meeting in Beijing.

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