On Monday (1 February 2021), the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill was tabled for a second reading in Parliament. The Bill aims to amend the Electronic Transactions Act to be more aligned to the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) on 13 July 2017.
If passed, the proposed amendments would provide greater legal certainty for digital transactions by legally recognising soft copies for more categories of documents. For example, it would recognise a digital Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) whereas currently, only hard copies of LPAs are accepted. This is big, because according to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), digitalisation could reduce the time needed to register an LPA from three weeks to just eight working days. Apart from this, the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill could also reduce the amount of paperwork involved in cross-border trade by allowing for digital documentation with international ports, enhancing efficiency and productivity.
How Does A Bill Become A Law?
While it might be early days yet for the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill, there is still much to unpack here. Who is allowed to introduce a Bill? What is a ‘second reading’? How many times are Bills read in Parliament before they become laws?
According to the Attorney-General’s Chambers website, any Member of Parliament (MP) may introduce a Bill. However, government bills have to be introduced by a Minister. For example, the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill was introduced by the Minister for Communications and Information, S. Iswaran.
Enjoy our infographic detailing the journey a typical Bill might take before it becomes a law!
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