Consumer Protection in E-Commerce Report 2002

2002 Yellowknife NT August 18-22

UNIFORM LAW CONFERENCE OF CANADA

CIVIL LAW SECTION

JURISDICTION AND CONSUMER PROTECTION IN ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP

 

Background

[1] The need to address Internet jurisdictional issues in relation to consumer matters has been recognized by the Conference. In 2001, the Conference and the Consumer Measures Committee (the "CMC") co-sponsored significant research papers on the subject.

[2] The paper prepared by Professor Michael Geist focuses on the determination of jurisdiction as it applies to contractual and private law rights in business-to-consumer online transactions. (1)

The paper prepared by Mr. Roger Tassé deals with the determination of jurisdiction as it applies to regulatory or public law. (2)

These papers were presented at a Workshop on Consumer Protection and Jurisdiction in Electronic Commerce, which was held in Toronto on April 11, 2001. They were also presented to the Civil Law Section at the August 2001 meeting.

ULCC Working Group

[3] A working group has been established to examine legislative options for addressing Internet jurisdictional issues and to work with the CMC in addressing Internet jurisdictional issues in relation to consumer matters.

[4] The members of the Working Group are: Frédérique Sabourin, Kathryn Sabo, Tim Rattenbury, Peter Lown, Hélène Yaremko-Jarvis, Doug Moen, Lynn Romeo and Karen Pflanzner.

ULCC-CMC Joint Working Group

[5] In November 2001, the ULCC Working Group formed a joint working group with members of the CMC.

[6] Since the establishment of the Joint Working Group a number of conference calls have been held. These conference calls have focused on identifying policy options and developing a draft proposal regarding jurisdictional rules for cross-border business-to-consumer transactions.

[7] The following paper has been prepared by the Joint Working Group for consideration at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Uniform Law Conference. The paper examines the existing framework for determining jurisdiction in the case of cross-border consumer transactions and considers whether there is a need for a new approach. The paper also reviews recent international initiatives and discusses the competing policy objectives that must be considered in developing a workable framework to address Internet jurisdictional issues. The paper concludes by proposing draft rules that address both:

(a) which court has jurisdiction to hear the dispute (choice of forum); and

(b) which territory's laws govern the resolution of the dispute (choice of law).

[8] The proposed rules are intended to apply to situations where a dispute involves more than one Canadian territory.

CMC Consultation Process

[9] It is the Working Group's expectation that the CMC will be conducting consultations with business and consumer stakeholders and the legal community regarding the paper and the proposed draft rules.

Next Steps

[10] The Working Group seeks guidance from the Civil Law Section on the paper and the proposed draft rules.

[11] It is the Working Group's expectation that once the results of the consultations have been reviewed, a final proposal and report on the project will be prepared for consideration at the 2003 Annual Meeting.

[12] The Joint Working Group will continue to meet regularly in order to proceed with this project.

1 Geist, Michael. "Is There A There There? Toward Greater Certainty for Internet Jurisdiction." 2001. Uniform Law Conference of Canada. Available online at http://www.ulcc.ca/en/cls/index.cfm?sec=4;

2 Tasse, Roger, O.C., Q.C. "Online Consumer Protection: A Study on Regulatory Jurisdiction in Canada." Maxime Faille, Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, July 2001. Uniform Law Conference of Canada. Available online at http://www.ulcc.ca/en/cls/index.cfm?sec=4.