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The Legality of Scanned Documents in Court

03/10/2014

After receiving numerous enquires relating to the legal issues entailed with scanning sensitive documents, we have decided to write a guide regarding the legal legitimacy of your copies and when you should keep the originals. 

Scanned Documents in Court
You can use your scanned documents in court, though it is worth noting that, as with any other evidence presented, the legitimacy of the documents could be challenged. If you can prove that the scanned copy is indeed a ‘true copy’ of the original, for example by having it certified with a solicitor, then challenges are easier to rebut.

When to destroy original copies
You can destroy the original copies of your documents if you:
a) Have the scanned copy certified – dated and signed – by a legal professional
b) Believe that you could defend the document against challenges to its legitimacy in court
c) No longer regard the document as legally sensitive

BSI BIP 0008
BSI BIP 0008 is a code of practice set up to ensure that electronic documents and items of communication will be accepted as evidence by the courts. When you’re beginning to scan through a backlog of paperwork, it is worth considering how to ensure the legal admissibility of your documents in future. If you can adhere to this standard, in the unlikely event of your documents being needed in a court hearing, they will stand up against criticism or challenge. The legitimacy of any electronic documents will stand up in court against criticism if you can implement an approved information management policy. If ever you should need to, it’s then much easier to demonstrate your normal day-to-day practices in managing your documents. Make sure any financial regulators are on board with your style of electronic storage and that your processes of document management are standardised and clear.

Moving forward
In short, your legal documents will stand up in court as evidence. Electronic copies will not necessarily come under scrutiny, but in cases where business documents are vital to the outcome of the case, you’ll need to be able to prove that you use a standardised system of digitising and storing your documents. 

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