Legal Assistance

The Taskforce

The Taskforce has been established by the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI) in partnership with the Centre for Applied Sustainable Transition Law (CASTL) to provide technical assistance and capacity-building support to help low to middle-income countries to digitalise commercial trade documents and align legal systems to MLETR.

It is a UK-led initiative operating in conjunction with the Legal Reform Advisory Board at the ICC Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) to help ensure all governments have the support they need to undertake necessary legal reform. This is a vital first step towards delivering a modern digital trade environment and pre-requisite to running cross-border pilots and establishing modern trade corridors. Assistance will be offered to governments requesting support.

Legal Reform Technical Assistance Taskforce, for low- to middle-income countries

There is a clear business case for digitalising trade, but it’s important all countries benefit. Digitalisation is a key enabler to delivering a more inclusive, sustainable and green economy. A primary barrier to digitalising trade systems is that commercial trade documents are not legally accepted in digital form under the law of most countries.

There are two priorities — update laws to accept commercial trade documents in digital form and align laws to the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR), to facilitate a global framework for handling electronic commercial trade documents. Systems won’t go fully paperless until all trade documents go digital. Experience shows that if customs documents are digitalised but, commercial trade documents are not, then the growth of digitalised documentation is inhibited. Today, despite all the investment in digitalising customs documentation and processes, less than 1% of bills of lading are digital. In the EU, only 1% of all trade documentation is handled digitally.


Digitalising trade is good for the economy, the environment, and will lead to increased efficiencies and greater inclusion. We hope that the passage of the UK Electronic Trade Documents Bill will be quick and act as a catalyst for other countries to reform their laws. We welcome the opportunity to partner with C4DTI on a technical assistance programme to accelerate legal reform in this area, in particular adopting MLETR aligned laws for low- and middle-income countries to grow their trade opportunities.

-John L Taylor, Co-Founder and Director, CASTL