As electronic commerce becomes more widespread, international bodies and national governments have been implementing legislation to ensure that electronic documents carry the same legal weight as their paper counterparts.
The major initiatives in this area have been driven by the United Nations and the International Chamber of Commerce. The UN created the UNCITRAL Model Laws on Electronic Commerce and Digital Signatures, both of which now form the basis for legislation throughout the world. The ICC has defined e-terms and the eUCP to facilitate greater adoption of electronic commerce in international trade.
But the bill of lading has remained outside of recent legislative changes because of its unique characteristics as a negotiable document and a contract of carriage. Most countries have avoided electronic legislation covering the bill of lading because the electronic means for transferring electronic bills of lading have not been available or were deficient.
Electronic Title User Group (ETUG) fills the legislative gap by providing a private user agreement that defines the rights and obligations of all parties using electronic titles. It has been designed and tested to work in every major trading jurisdiction in the world.
All members of the Electronic Title User Group must agree to the terms in user agreement. It provides the legal foundation to allow the transfer of bills of lading using e-title™ solution. It also ensures that the underlying contract of carriage remains in force as if the paper bill of lading was used.