Q&As

Can certified copies of documents be sent/received by email? Is a certified copy of a document sent/received by email a 'true copy'?

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Published on LexisPSL on 21/10/2020

The following Commercial Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can certified copies of documents be sent/received by email? Is a certified copy of a document sent/received by email a 'true copy'?

Can certified copies of documents be sent/received by email? Is a certified copy of a document sent/received by email a 'true copy'?

A certified copy is an accurate, complete and current copy (usually a photocopy) of an original document. The certified copy will include a statement that it is a true copy of the original as at the date certified. It does not certify that the original document is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the original.

There are numerous reasons for obtaining a certified copy of a document in the context of commercial transactions. For examples, see Practice Note: Certified copy requirements in commercial transactions.

A certified copy may be adduced in evidence provided that it has been authenticated appropriately (see section 1 of the Evidence Act 1845).

There does not seem to be any authority which confirms whether a certified copy in digital format (required for it to be sent or received via email) would satisfy such statutory requirements but see Q&A: Where no original can be located, what is the status of a PDF copy of an original agreement for evidential purposes in the context of litigation?

As a matter of best practice, when asked to submit a copy document, it is advisable to check with the body requiring a certified copy as to the form of words required and the acceptable format of the certified copy.

For example, in its 2019 report on the Electronic Execution of Documents, the Law Commission surveyed a number of bodies requiring registration

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