Evidential Weight and Legal Admissibility of Information Stored Electronically. Code of Practice for the Implementation of BS 10008
We are often asked if scanned documents are legally admissible. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this question. Companies House made the following statement in relation to the way that information they hold may be used as evidence:
“If a document is admissible in evidence, then an electronic image of that document may be treated as secondary evidence in the same manner as a photocopy or a microfiche image. It will be subject to the provisions regarding authentication contained in the Civil Evidence Act 1995 in England and Wales and the Civil Evidence Act (Scotland) 1988 in Scotland.”
The British Standards Institute (BSI) has introduced BIP 0008-1:2008, Evidential Weight and Legal Admissibility of Information Stored Electronically. This standard covers the scope more widely and a copy of code of practice can be purchased from BSI by clicking here.
The general opinion is that scanned images are likely to be admissible in court, but they would be considered as secondary evidence with the same evidential weight as a photocopy.
The ICSA Guide to Document Retention, available to buy by clicking here, states that “Business documents will nearly always be admissible as evidence in legal proceedings even if they are hearsay. It will generally not matter what form they take (e.g. whether they are in paper, microfilm or electronic form) or whether they are copies of the originals……
At Sterling we follow the principles of the code to ensure that our scanning service offers the highest standards. Coupled to this is our procedure for handling the originals, from receipt through to destruction which ensures that all documents are placed into numbered batches which can be tracked throughout processing and final destruction is certified. If you are still unsure or have questions that are not answered by the BSI book, please contact your legal advisor for further advice.