The Commission has established six working groups to perform the substantive preparatory work on topics within the Commission’s program of work. Each of the working groups is composed of all member States of the Commission.
The present mandate of Working Group I is to reduce the legal obstacles that confront micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) throughout their lifecycle. This work commenced in February 2014 and is ongoing. The next meeting of this Working Group is scheduled to take place in Vienna on 3-7 October 2016.
Working Group I is currently focused on the formative stages of MSMEs including registration and incorporation. The objective is to review these matters in accordance with best practice and dealing with relevant legal issues in such a way as to create an enabling legal environment for MSMEs. A number of models and suggestions have been put to the Working Group indicative of the diverse range of approaches currently adopted by the countries actively contributing to the work of this group.
Registration of MSMEs
Processes reflective of good practice in business registration have been considered. While the precise format of the final documents has not been settled, the Working Group is moving toward the development of a legislative guide on key principles in business registration. The current draft of the legislative guide can be found here. The Secretariat’s documentation on key principles of business registration can be found here and here.
Incorporation of MSMEs
Working Group I is looking at the legal issues relevant to simplification of incorporation and the incorporated form of registered entity. At the 23rd session the Working Group began consideration of legal questions that would inform the Secretariat in drafting a text on a simplified entity with limited liability. There has been considerable debate over several meetings as to the form that the text should take. The Secretariat initially produced a draft model law around which to focus discussion of the legal issues surrounding simplification of incorporation. The initial draft model law was quite short containing only 39 Articles, but attracted debate as to whether it was still too complex to serve the needs of small simplified entities. The text of the draft model law is here.
Discussion of the draft model law at the 26th session concluded with a return to debate as to the form that the text should take. Three propositions were considered: a model law, a list of 10 key principles, and a legislative guide. The latter received widest support. The Secretariat has been requested to prepare a legislative guide that reflects the group’s policy discussion to date and the draft model law. The draft legislative guide is expected to be focus of the future meetings of this working group.
Australia does not presently send an official delegation to Working Group I, however past meetings of this working group have been attended by:
- Tim Castle, Barrister and Chair UNCCA
- Diane Chapman, Fellow UNCCA
- Anne Matthew, QUT School of Law
Work on ODR
Working Group III was established by the Commission in 2010 to undertake work in the field of online dispute resolution for low-value, high-volume, cross-border electronic commerce transactions, including business-to-business (B2B transactions) and business-to-consumers (B2C transactions) transactions, with a view to drafting online dispute resolution rules (ODR Rules). The underlying purpose of the Working Group was to address the fact that traditional judicial mechanisms for legal recourse do not offer an adequate solution for cross-border e-commerce disputes. The ODR Rules were to promote fairness, transparency, due process, accountability and efficiency.
While the Working Group could elaborate on rules for B2C transactions, it had to be mindful of the need not to displace consumer protection legislation.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Working Group attempted to reach consensus on the proposals for ODR Rules. In March 2016, Working Group III finalised an agreed text, the Technical Notes on Online Dispute Resolution which was adopted by UNCITRAL at its 49th Session in New York on 5 July 2015.
The final text can be found here.
Possible future work of WGIII
At its meeting in New York on 5 July 2015, UNCITRAL considered a proposal for possible future work on the topic of suspension and debarment in public procurement and public private partnerships (PPPs).
The Commission instructed the Secretariat to undertake certain exploratory work on suspension and debarment in public procurement, supporting the implementation of a public procurement law as well as fighting corruption, with a view to presenting a report at the next meeting of UNCITRAL.
The Commission also requested the Secretariat continue its preparatory work on PPP reform, including updating existing UNCITRAL texts on Privately-Financed Infrastructure Projects, and provide a further report at the next meeting of UNCITRAL. There are three key areas for reform: procurement in PPPs, terms of the project agreement and post award disputes.
The next Commission meeting is scheduled for 3-21 July 2017 in Vienna.
Since 1992 Working Group IV has been engaged in issues related to Electronic Commerce. The Working Group’s name was originally Electronic Data Interchange, but was changed in 1997 to Electronic Commerce.
- United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (New York, 2005)
- UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (2017)
- UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures (2001)
- UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce (1996)
Legislative guides and recommendations
- Recommendations to Governments and international organizations concerning the legal value of computer records (1985)
- Promoting confidence in electronic commerce: legal issues on international use of electronic authentication and signature methods (2007)
In 2016 the Working Group completed its work on the Model Law of Electronic Transferable Records, which was formally adopted by the Commission in July 2017.
The Working Group is currently discussing two topics of interest: Cloud Computing, and Identity Management and Trust Services.
Co-Chair Working Group IV – Dr Alan Davidson TC Beirne School of Law University of Queensland
A comprehensive bibliography is available at: