Master Thesis: E-commerce in the Modern World-Electronic Transactions and Some Challenges and Perspectives: Comparative Analysis of UK, Egypt and South African Legislation
In recent years, the shape and form of global marketplace has been evolving and moving from traditional face-to-face, physical trading practices by means of paper documents, to a more advanced form of trading and transacting through electronic means facilitated by the internet. The trade has evolved and shaped itself to encompass electronic processing and transmission of data, to include text, sound, picture and video formats, and hence, nowadays, by means of the internet and information and communication technologies, businesses can reach consumers who, otherwise, would never had known or had access to certain products and/or services, where commercial transactions became possible between a seller and a buyer who would transact and never meet each other in reality.
The new form of transacting in the global marketplace, coined as electronic commerce has been witnessing tremendous growth and has become the backbone of contemporary economic and financial transactions, as well as the preferred choice for most traders and consumers, offering access not only to national e-stores but wiping the international borders and opening access to cross-border markets.
Rapid growth of global e-space and fast development of technologies and e-commerce, however, have posed significant challenges to the global legal frameworks, and in particular, exposed the limitations of definitions available under the substantive rules applicable to commercial contracts. The more convenient forms of communication and transactions, have confronted governments, internet users and businesses with a wide range of legal issues as the existing legal rules in some jurisdictions, yet, do not provide the answers to novel issues that arise in the course of transactions. Hence, the need for enabling legal frameworks in order to fill the lacuna to instill certainty, confidence and guidance in relation to arising e-commerce matters.
Egypt, which will be the focus of this thesis, is one of those jurisdictions legal framework of which in relation to e-commerce remains underdeveloped and falls way behind legislative instruments of other countries. The regulatory framework in the field of e-commerce in Egypt remains to be yet formulated and enforced as there are still no appropriate laws governing the sector although the Internet Law and E-Commerce Law have long been anticipated. As e-commerce is spreading across borders, Egypt needs Data Protection Law, Online Privacy Law, Consumer Protection, Internet/Cyber Law in order to ensure proper governance and control over rapidly growing electronic market space.
This thesis is intended to explore Egypt's legislative landscape related to e-commerce by analyzing and comparing Egypt's current and proposed legislation to some of the international 'best practices'. The principle jurisdictions identified for the purpose of comparison are the United Kingdom, as an example of advanced jurisdiction and South Africa, as a jurisdiction lying within the same continent.
The thesis is aimed to examine the law(s) regulating e-commerce in Egypt in contrast to international trends and e-commerce laws of the United Kingdom and South Africa. The thesis aims to compare and contrast provisions related to electronic contracts, e-signatures, e-government, aspects of jurisdiction, consumer protection, cybercrime and cryptocurrencies available under Egyptian, UK, and South Africa's legislation. Existing laws and regulations governing e-commerce in South Africa and the UK will be assessed in comparison to Egypt, in order to identify merits of each legal framework which would potentially pave the way for recommendations to be proffered to Egypt's legislators in their attempt to shape the needed regulatory instrument(s).
The thesis covers the dimensions of e-commerce in a legal context as follows: Section 1 deals with the background issues of e-commerce and UNCITRAL and OECD efforts; Section 2 addresses e-commerce legislative landscape of Egypt including E-signature Law, Draft E-commerce Law and challenges associated with electronic contracts; Section 3 examines dimensions of e-commerce in a legal context as available under the laws of South Africa and the United Kingdom and draws analytical conclusions of strengths of the legislations which might serve a lesson from international 'best practice' perspective to be adopted by Egypt's legislators in the course of drafting its own laws; Section 4 discusses cryptocurrencies and its legal status and acceptance in the UK, South Africa and Egypt; and finally, Section 5 presents an analysis of gaps noted and lessons learned from the UK and South Africa and proposals of needed reforms on the legislative landscape of Egypt.
The thesis aims to illustrate that Egypt, is encouraged to consider the experience of other jurisdictions such as the UK and South Africa in the realm of e-commerce related legislative instruments in order to meet the requirements dictated by the new reality, specifically keeping in mind that it has a lucrative market with 100 million (most of which are active users of e-space). Thus, this thesis might very well serve good for the Egyptian legislators looking into modernization of the legal landscape in the field of electronic commerce.
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