Legal Issues and Challenges of E-commerce Contract

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Advancements in technology have eliminated communication barriers, enabling individuals to exchange information instantaneously across the globe. This is achievable solely due to the growth of the e-commerce industry. The advent of e-commerce has revolutionized the way business transactions are conducted, providing convenience and accessibility to millions of consumers in India. However, along with its numerous advantages, e-commerce also presents unique legal challenges, particularly concerning the formation and enforcement of contracts. In this article, we will explore the essentials of E-Contract, their types, laws related to them, and legal issues and challenges associated with them in India.

Essentials of E-Contract

In the case of paper-based contracts, certain essential elements must be fulfilled, similarly, in e-contracts, there are important elements that are required for its formation. These essential elements are listed as follows:

  • Offer 
  • Acceptance
  • Lawful consideration
  • Lawful object
  • Competent Party
  • Intention to form a legal relationship
  • Free consent

Types of E-Contracts

Browse Wrap Agreements

A browser wrap agreement is a type of agreement that is intended to be binding on the party using the website. The rules and regulations are available to clients at any place on the page in the form of a hyperlink on the website, and by continuing to use the website, users are considered to have agreed to the terms. 

Shrink Wrap Agreements

These are commonly used in the sale of software or other products. Shrink Wrap agreements are typically present on the plastic or in the documentation surrounding the digital goods and are only accessible after the shrink wrap seal is broken. By opening the package or using the product, the user is deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement. 

Click Wrap Agreements

Click wrap agreements are prevalent in online transactions and are often used when users are required to indicate their acceptance of the terms and conditions actively. The users are presented with a dialogue box or a checkbox with the terms and conditions displayed, and they must click a button or check the box to proceed with the transaction. Click wrap agreements are generally considered enforceable, as they require users to take affirmative action to indicate their consent.

E-Contracts and Indian Law

In India, there are no laws and regulations that directly relate to e-contracts but some of the laws in unification regulate them which are discussed as follows.

  • The India Contract Act, 1872 includes all the rules applicable to contracts along with all the essentials required to form a legal contract. The Act recognizes the validity and enforceability of e-contracts, provided they satisfy the essential elements of a valid contract. Any standard contract that is paperless or in electronic form that meets the requirements of the India Contract Act is an e-contract. 
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 is another significant legislation specifically addressing electronic contracts and e-commerce transactions in India. It provides legal recognition and validity to electronic records and digital signatures, making them legally equivalent to their paper-based counterparts. It stipulates that electronic contracts are not to be denied enforceability solely because they are in electronic form. It affirms that contracts formed electronically are legally valid and binding, provided they meet the requirements of a valid contract as per the Indian Contract Act. Section 10A of the Information Technology Act deals with the ‘validity of contracts formed through electronic means’. It states that “Where in a contract formation, the communication of proposals, the acceptance of proposals, the revocation of proposals and acceptances, as the case may be, are expressed in electronic form or by means of an electronic records, such contract shall not be deemed to be unenforceable solely on the ground that such electronic form or means was used for that purpose.”
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872: The contacts in electronic mode should be accepted as evidence, therefore, Sections 65A and 65B in the Indian Evidence Act provide special provisions to consider electronic records as evidence. 

Some other laws and regulations include the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Foreign Exchange Management (Non-Debt Instruments) Rules, 2019, Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, 2017, Competition Act, 2002, and the Data Protection Laws (The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, 2023).

Issues and Challenges of E-commerce Contract

  • Formation of E-commerce Contracts: One of the primary challenges in e-commerce is the determination of a valid and enforceable contract. In traditional contracts, there is often a physical signature or exchange of documents, which is absent in the digital realm. The Information Technology Act of 2000, provides legal recognition to electronic contracts, but challenges remain in ensuring their validity and enforceability. 
  • Offer and Acceptance: In e-commerce, the process of offer and acceptance can be complex. The terms and conditions of an online transaction are typically presented to the consumer through a click-wrap or browse-wrap agreement. However, issues arise when consumers fail to adequately review or understand these terms before purchasing. Courts in India have grappled with the question of whether such agreements are binding and enforceable.
  • Online Consumer Protection: Consumer protection is a critical aspect of e-commerce contracts. Indian law provides certain safeguards for consumers, such as the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. However, enforcing these protections in the e-commerce context can be challenging due to the digital nature of transactions, jurisdictional complexities, and the presence of international e-commerce platforms.
  • Consent and Authentication: Establishing the authenticity and consent of the parties involved in e-commerce contracts is crucial. Validating electronic signatures, verifying identities, and ensuring that parties have willingly agreed to the contract terms can be complex.
  • Jurisdictional Challenges: Determining the appropriate jurisdiction for resolving e-commerce disputes poses a significant challenge. E-commerce transactions often involve parties from different states or even different countries. This raises questions about which court or forum has jurisdiction over disputes, making the enforcement of contractual rights difficult.
  • Data Privacy and Security: E-commerce transactions involve the collection and processing of vast amounts of personal data. Protecting this data from unauthorized access or misuse is crucial. India has recently enacted the Personal Data Protection Bill, which aims to regulate data protection in the country. However, implementing and enforcing robust data privacy and security measures in the e-commerce sector remains an ongoing challenge.
  • Electronic Communication and Evidence: E-commerce contracts rely on electronic communication, raising issues related to the admissibility and evidentiary value of electronic records and communications in legal proceedings.
  • Counterfeit Products and Intellectual Property: E-commerce platforms have become hotspots for the sale of counterfeit products, leading to violations of intellectual property rights. Ensuring the authenticity and legality of the goods sold online poses a significant challenge. E-commerce intermediaries are required to take proactive measures to detect and prevent the sale of counterfeit products, but practical implementation remains a challenge.

Related Case Laws


E-commerce has transformed the way business is conducted in India, but it also brings a host of legal challenges for contract formation and enforcement. Resolving these challenges is crucial to foster trust, protect consumer rights, and ensure a conducive business environment. It requires a proactive approach from lawmakers, regulators, and e-commerce platforms to develop robust legal frameworks that address the unique complexities posed by e-commerce transactions. By addressing these challenges effectively, India can unlock the full potential of e-commerce while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders involved.


1. What are the essentials of E-Contract?
2. What are the types of E-Contracts?