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Unit information: Law of E-Commerce in 2015/16

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Unit name Law of E-Commerce
Unit code LAWDM0079
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Charlesworth
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The speed of technological innovation means that even as laws and regulatory practices are formulated, they are already under pressure from the next wave of development: thus solutions promulgated for internet based e-commerce are already criticised as unsuitable for the requirements of the mobile e-commerce arena. The unit explores how legislators, regulators and business decision makers interact in their attempts to develop a coherent and flexible body of law and regulatory practice for an increasingly globalised electronic commerce environment. This will involve consideration of current and potential legal and regulatory strategies that can be used to achieve aims such as protection of consumers, provision of international dispute resolution, development of alternative payment systems, enforcement of national regulatory regimes (e.g. financial services, gambling).

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to explain: a) current law in key aspects of eCommerce business development, including intellectual property, contracting for business services, provision of online services such as e-auctions, consumer protection, privacy and data protection, payment systems and moneylaundering

b) the underlying commercial and regulatory theories underpinning aspects of the legal framework surrounding eCommerce

c) the effectiveness, or otherwise, of national and supranational eCommerce regulation in terms of its stated goals and practical outcomes Students should be able to state the law accurately, to critically assess both theories and the law and discuss potential solutions to any problems with current law and policy, including the usefulness or otherwise of law reform.

This unit is also intended to improve skills relating to research – in particular, the ability to research legal issues and areas of law.

The assessment essays provide a means of assessing:

a) what students have learned throughout the unit, in terms both of technical subject matter and modes of critical thought

b) whether students are themselves able to think critically about the law, to extract pertinent information and analysis from material gathered though desk research, and utilise these skills to create coherent and structured academic commentary.

Teaching details

10 x 2 hour seminars

Assessment Details

Summative - 2 x 3000 word essays (weighting 50/50%).

The assessments will assess all the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative - students should do one formative assessment and will receive feedback on the first summative essay

Reading and References

Rowland, D., Kohl, U. & Charlesworth A. (2011) Information Technology Law, (4th ed.) Routledge; Wang, F.F. (2011) Law of Electronic Commercial Transactions: Contemporary Issues in the EU, US and China, Routledge; Smith G.J.H. (2007) Internet Law and Regulation (4th ed.) Sweet & Maxwell; Hedley, S. (2006) The Law of Electronic Commerce and the Internet in the UK and Ireland, Cavendish Publishing Ltd