Disagreements sometimes develop between two parties over a commercial transaction, and this matter may need to go forward to a court of law. In this situation, one party may need to draw attention to an existing agreement and how it may affect the dispute itself. But what kind of documentation is permissible in this situation, and will the court accept an agreement that has been purely made online or in digital form? What do you need to know if you are in this position?
In the days before computers became a key part of everyday life, you would need to bring forward a paper copy of an agreement during a dispute. The court would then be able to assess its content and view the wet signatures of both parties. Today, many agreements are consummated online, especially for organisations operating in multiple jurisdictions. Certainly, it is possible to digitally sign these documents using readily available software, but some people wonder whether that type of evidence is admissible or not.
Keeping with the Times
The legal system has kept up with technological advances, and modifications have been made to the Evidence Act and other legislation. So when you are required to provide information during any discovery process, you can bring forward a document in practically any form. In other words, it could be produced by a device as part of digitised paper records or something that is scanned. If your agreement is formed in the body of an email, then you can also offer that as proof.
This clarification should be sufficient in most commercial disputes. Be aware that there are some restrictions when it comes to matters like immigration or family law pertaining to a will. Some information needs to be witnessed, and other documents must contain wet signatures, or they are simply invalid.
Nevertheless, you will need to prove authenticity and be clear about when the documentation was generated and if it has been in your possession since then. After all, it's not that hard to use editing software to alter or manipulate digital documents, and you must be clear that you have taken steps to avoid such a risk. A court may request additional evidence and you may need to provide other supporting material to support your claim.
The Moving Forward
You can support any court challenge with digital documentation in most cases. However, if you have any questions about your position, ensure that you get local commercial lawyers to assist.