Recommendation No. 26

Commercial Use of Interchange Agreements for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Author/Source: UNECE through its Working Party on Facilitation of International Trade Procedures (WP.4)

Year of adopting/publication: 1995
(first version)
Document reference: ECE/TRADE/WP.4/R.1133

Link to the document on the internet: Recommendation No. 26

Purpose: This recommendation provides an harmonised model agreement for electronic data interchange (EDI) in commercial transactions, which is internationally accepted. The purpose is to increase the legal security of trading relationships between the involved parties and to enhance the confidence with which the technology is employed.

Summary: An interchange agreement is made between trading partners and sets out the rules that they will adopt for using EDI. The agreement also details the roles and responsibilities of the parties for transmitting, receiving and storing electronic messages. It includes seven sections covering aspects such as:

  • Scope: applications of the agreement and reference to the annex describing the detailed technical procedures that the parties will use in their EDI communications,
  • Communications and operations between parties: rules governing the communications between the trading partners and the methods of operations for sending messages, including standards, security procedures, etc.,
  • Message processing: receipt, aknowledgement, technical errors,
  • Validity and enforceability: legal aspects of using EDI in international trade,
  • Data content requirements: confidential status and legal compliance with national laws defining the content of messages,
  • Liability: including excuses for liability in case of force majeur,
  • General provisions: including terms often found in many types of commercial agreements, such as the governing law, termination, dispute resolution, etc.

The model agreement is designed to be implemented in bi-lateral agreements between two trading partners, but it can be easily implemented in multilateral relationships such as in trade communities or associations.It may also be relevant to public authorities, such as statistics' offices or trade facilitation bodies, in their effort to rationalise and harmonise electronic processes and procedures.

Governments, need to make the necessary legal and regulatory reforms for making effective the terms of the agreement.Furthermore, they can contribute to the legal security of electronic data interchange, through training and awareness raising programs, the availability and usefulness of the agreement as well as of commercial business practices in line with the terms of the agreement.

NB: This agreement is for commercial partners engaged into contractual relations based exclusively on EDI. Commercial partners engaged in contractual relations based on a combination of electronic commerce technologies including EDI are recommended to use the Electronic Commerce Agreement proposed in UNECE Recommendation 31.

Pages that cite the Rec. No. 26:

Rec. N.31 E-agreements