Electronic contract Law
By Shiya Patidar
With the advancement in computer technology, telecommunications, and information technology, the use of computer network has gained popularity in the recent past, it serves as the channel between or for electronic trade across the globe. E-contract is an aid to drafting and negotiating successful contracts for consumer and business e-commerce related services. It is designed to assist people in formulation and implementing commercial contracts policies within e-businesses. In India, e-contracts are getting more importance because of people adopting new techniques and technology. E-contract contains model contracts for the sale of products and supply of digital products and services to both consumers and businesses.
Modes of entering into an e-contract
An electronic contract is an agreement created and signed in electronic form, in other words no paper or hard copies are used. For example, an agreement is drafted on our computer and was send to the business associate by email. The business associate, emails back to us with an electronic signature indicating acceptance.
E-contract can be categorized into two types i.e. web-wrap agreement and shrink-wrap agreement. A person witness these e-contract everyday but is unaware of the legal work associated with it. Web-wrap agreements are basically web based agreements which requires confirmation of the party by way of clicking the “I agree” or “I accept” button.
Law governing e-contract
Section (11) of IT Act, 2000
An electronic record shall be attributed to the originator:-
- If it was send by the originator himself
- By a person who had the authority to act on behalf of the originator in respect of that electronic record
- By an information system programmed by or on behalf of the originator to operate automatically.
Section(12) of Information Technology Act, 2000
Acknowledgement of receipt:
- Where the originator has not agreed with the addressee that the acknowledgement of receipt of electronic record be given in a particular form or by a particular method, an acknowledgement may be given by-
- any communication by the addressee, automated
- any conduct of the addressee, sufficient to indicate to the originator that the electronic record has been received.
- Where the originator has stipulated that the electronic record shall be binding only on receipt of an acknowledgement of such electronic record by him, then unless acknowledgement has been so received, the electronic record shall be deemed to have been never sent by the originator.
Case: J. K Enterprise V. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors.
According to the plaintiff he made an offer to the defendant, for the purchase of Tendu leave of lot no. 1095 at the rate of Rs. 30/- per standard bag. It is the stand of the plaintiff that he was never informed that his offer has been accepted.
He made the offer on 11-1-2000 and when he did not get the acceptance till 3-3-2000, and thus by fax message sent on 3-3-2000 he withdrew his offer.
In the return field on behalf of defendant it has been stated that offer of the plaintiff dated 11-1-2000 was accepted and communication under registered cover on the address disclosed by the plaintiff itself, was sent by letter dated 12-2-2000, which was returned as the address was incomplete.
Defendant further stated in their return that the alleged fax message dated 3-3-2000 withdrawing the offer was not received by the defendant as it was sent on the wrong fax no.
Thus, according to the above mentioned facts the court held that as the communication of acceptance of the offer made by the plaintiff was never made by the defendant and as the defendant failed to communicate his acceptance within the given time period the offeror can withdraw his offer.
Today with the recent advancement in the areas of computer technology, telecommunication technology, software and information technology have resulted in changing the standard of living of people in an unimaginable way. The communication is no more restricted due to the geographical area and time. Information is transmitted and received widely and more rapidly than ever before. And this is where the electronic commerce offers the flexibility to business environment in terms of place, time, space, distance and payment. With the growth in e-commerce, there is a rapid advancement in the use of e-contracts.