The Essex Law School represents the UK at the 2022 IACL General Congress

Photo by Mikel Parera

Dr Anna – Mari Antoniou, Lecturer in Maritime and Commercial Law, has been appointed as the UK’s special national rapporteur at the International Academy of Comparative Law’s (IACL) General Congress, which will take take place in Asunción, Paraguay in 2022.

Dr Antoniou will be representing the United Kingdom for Trade Finance and her report deals with Topic IV of the Congress: ‘The Effectiveness of International Legal Harmonisation through Soft Law – UCP600’. It discusses the UK’s approach to several trade finance issues, including how courts, arbitral tribunals and financial institutions solve recurring problems in documentary credit contracts.

The report’s most significant contribution is an investigation and analysis of two current problems: first, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the industry and supply chains; and second, the way the pandemic has forced the issue of digitisation of trade finance.

It discusses the Law Commission’s Electronic Trade Documents project, which is in the consultation phase, and if the proposed draft Bill is adopted by Parliament, electronic transport documents will become a reality.

Dr Antoniou’s report looks at the issue both from a practical perspective and a legal perspective; international trade is worth £1.153 trillion to the UK so an incredibly significant amount is reflected in this report.

Moreover, the legal issues discussed are an excellent example of how the law needs to be updated to reflect the commercial reality. COVID-19 has highlighted other failings in the trade system, but has also emphasised the need for electronic alternatives for an industry deeply rooted in paper-only transactions.

Dr Antoniou’s preliminary report was submitted on 31 August 2021 with final reports due November 2021.

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