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E-Commerce Law & Practice: An Introduction For the Energy Practitioner

Philip M. Marston, Natural Gas Transportation and Marketing (2001)

Like most “buzz-words” that burst onto the business scene, the term “electronic commerce” (or “e-commerce”) describes for the most part new ways of doing some very old things. Similarly, the law governing e-commerce turns out to concern itself with a host of legal matters with which the practitioner is already thoroughly familiar, including some topics so old that most attorneys haven't given them a fresh thought since the first year of law school. For example, as seen below, expertise of legal historians familiar with the “law of the seal” may be helpful in understanding the developing legal standards for document authenticity in a digital age.

Hence, while there is much that is new in the rapidly changing world of electronic commerce, transactions — and law practice — there is much that is not. The goal of this paper is to summarize that which is new in a manner that is readily recognizable by those experienced in the “good old ways” of conducting business and practicing law. It is thus intended to merely point the way to the various statutes, principles or rapidly developing bodies of law addressing electronic commerce and practice, and is emphatically not intended to be a definitive discussion of the various matters touched upon.