June 11 2018
A paperless work environment helps to save time, money and space. As society adopts digital technologies, electronic communications are increasingly becoming the standard in business. But do digital documents have the same legal value as paper documents?
The UN adopted a law on electronic commerce in 1996 and another on electronic signatures in 2001. These laws have served as the basis for legislation on electronic commerce in many countries worldwide.
In Canada, laws have been adopted in most provinces, and the power to regulate electronic activities is shared between the federal and provincial governments. It is rather difficult to identify the level of government concerned with the different types of disputes – but one thing is certain: federal and provincial laws on the management of electronic documents are relatively uniform in their treatment.
Except in Quebec, provincial legislation on electronic commerce is principally based on the federal government’s Uniform Electronic Commerce Act. In Ontario, the reference is the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000. In Quebec, the Act to Establish a Legal Framework for Information Technology is the legislative reference governing technology-based documents. These laws specify the rules to be followed in preserving the legal value of electronic documents. The most common criterion is: integrity. To affirm the legal value of an electronic document, you must be able to demonstrate that it is complete and has not been altered in any way.
The Fondation du Barreau du Québec has prepared a comprehensive guide that is available on its website. Here is some key information contained in the guide:
In summary, the choice of a specific medium or technology does not impact the legal value of a document or a signature. It depends on the integrity of the document, not on the technology or medium used.
Apart from legislation, it is important to know good practices in electronic document management (EDM). Here are some of them:
Digitizing a document and saving it on your computer’s hard drive is not enough to make it legally valid. Decisions surrounding technologies to be used for managing your documents should be based on reliability imperatives. Use tools that can ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of content at every stage of your documents’ life cycle. By taking the time to make the right technology choices, you are ensuring the legal and evidentiary value of your documents, while preserving their security in the event of a power outage or computer hack.
Whatever the size of your business, technological solutions adapted to your needs are available to ensure the integrity of your digital documents, and therefore their legal value. If you are not familiar with EDM, ask our specialists to guide you through solutions that will be reliable and adapted to your environment.
October 16 2018
Human resource professionals spend hours every week searching for information through a ton of files and creating documents with long life cycles. The onboarding process alone involves a dizzying number of documents to be gathered together, filled in, signed, sent and filed.
June 11 2019
Digitizing a document is not complicated, and your business probably has the equipment to “dematerialize” all your paper files. But scanning and converting your documents to PDF is just the beginning of digitization.
August 29 2018
Digital transformation is critical to the success of today’s companies. Integrating technology into operations is no longer an option for those seeking to gain a competitive advantage in the 4.0 industry. Several areas of business are already well advanced in their digital transformation, particularly human resources, operations and marketing. However, many companies are slow in improving their accounts payable processes, which have a tremendous optimization potential.