IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Le commerce éléctronique et la protection des consommateurs

Listed author(s):
  • Josef Drexl
Registered author(s):

    To the extent that the creation and exploitation of information technology, in particular of the Internet, represents not only a cause and a hallmark of economic globalisation, but also is dependent upon globalized ways and rules of trade, it is particularly revealing to study the impact of electronic commerce on the globalization of economic law. Focussing the examination more specifically on problems of consumer protection will also bring into consideration national public policy thus raising additional issues of policy conflicts, even though, in the context of the Internet, the concept of consumer may not be limited to the ultimate consumer. Assuming that the establishment of specific rules of consumer law is legitimate in itself, the paper seeks to identify the problems which consumer protection raises for globalized electronic commerce by comparing the approaches which the major players in the field, i.e. the USA and the EU, prefer. Therefore, the policy of the EU of relying on the traditional legal instruments of market regulation is contrasted with self-regulation of e-commerce by industry, which is the approach the US favor with respect to both the domestic market and international trade (see the Global Business Dialogue). These preferences are then explained by reference to the prevailing political and economic thought, and they are put in the perspective of the institutional framework existing on both the international level (UNCITRAL) and the national and regional levels respectively. In particular, it is demonstrated that the distribution of federal powers in the USA and the rules on the establishment of an Internal Market by free trade and harmonization of laws in the EU do have a deep impact on the approaches chosen and the results reached. A major conclusion is that none of the systems fully corresponds to the needs of both e-commerce and consumer protection on the Internet. This is so because, first, considerable diversity of rules continues to exist on domestic markets, and, second and more important, because the systems, in particular the system of the EU, are inward~oriented. The EU favors the establishment of the Internal Market, and thus neglects or even discriminates against e-commerce with third countries, an attitude which is patently at odds with the requirements of global e-commerce. This divide is further explained by a closer examination of the specific rules governing transnational e-commerce transac~tions, and of a number of specific problems of e-commerce such as consumer contract law, protection of personal data, treatment of unsolicited information, and conflicts of jurisdiction. The main conclusion is that States may considerably impair global e~commerce simply by failing to establish consistent and uniform systems of e-commerce regulation and consumer protection on the domestic level. Another, no less pessimistic conclusion is that the very reasons that impede satisfactory domestic laws in this field will also block the establishment of a satisfactory international regime of e-commerce and consumer protection. The only hope is that compatible legal standards will gradually develop in the course of globalisation. H.U.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: free

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: free

    Article provided by De Boeck Université in its journal Revue internationale de droit économique.

    Volume (Year): t. XVI (2002)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 405-444

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_162_0405
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cai:riddbu:ride_162_0405. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jean-Baptiste de Vathaire)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.