Are Scanned Copies of Documents Legal?

March 10, 2022

No company can ever predict when or if their business documents will ever need to be used in a court of law. A customer of yours could become involved in a lawsuit in which documents that your business has are requested to be used for evidence. However, you might wonder if scanned copies can be considered legal documents. This is why many companies opt to keep hard copies of all their documents, which could eventually become a nuisance. However, is it necessary to keep hard copies of all documents? Are scanned copies of documents legal?

What the Federal Law Says

There are two federal laws that state whether or not scanned copies of documents can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. According to the United States Uniform of Evidence Act, quality duplicates are permissible in a court of law and can replace original documents, so that in cases in which the original is not available, a duplicate will be acceptable. The duplicate is only permitted to be used in lieu of the original if it’s duplicated in an accurate manner. In other words, as long as you are able to provide a legible, accurate and high-quality duplicate, your duplicate will be considered equivalent to the original.

The second federal law, the Uniform Photographic Copies of Business & Public Records Act, has been enacted in nearly every state in the United States. According to this act, duplicates of documents are considered to have the same legal importance as originals. This can be accurately interpreted to mean that any means of producing a high-quality photocopy of business and public records can and will be treated as originals when used as evidence in federal courts as well as many state courts.

Key Benefits of Scanning Your Documents

There are numerous benefits of partnering with a reputable third-party who can provide your business with high-quality, professional scanning services. Here is a list of just some of the key benefits of scanning your documents.

  • Increased security – this is one of the aspects of scanning your documents that benefits businesses significantly. How is security increased by scanning? Some documents are more private and more restricted than others and managing documents and mail in the conventional way can leave a business open for security breaches. Not only could unauthorized persons gain access to this sensitive information, but maintaining physical documents makes it easy for essential documents to become damaged or even lost. By opting to have all your business documents scanned, you eliminate the chances of either of these potential problems from occurring.
  • Save money & time – this is another aspect of having your mail and documents scanned that is extremely beneficial to many businesses. It can be extremely time-consuming to collect mail on a daily basis and sort, scan and file it. For companies that receive large amounts of mail, this can be even more time-consuming and require a lot more manpower. However, if your business partners with a third-party scanning service, you can save money, as it will no longer be necessary to employ as many employees, nor will it be necessary to maintain a mailroom. Additionally, a significant amount of time would be freed up, enabling you and others in the company to spend that precious time conducting other important tasks.
  • An improvement in customer service – it can be frustrating for customers to contact a company that they’re doing business with requesting information that is needed immediately, yet the company can’t provide that information until hours or even days later. This can cause many businesses to lose valuable customers through no direct fault of their own. However, if your business has all of its essential documents available in an easy-to-access database, then upon request, the company can immediately email or fax over the requested data, significantly improving customer service in the process.
  • Improving compliance – compliance in the workplace is of extreme importance, because failure to comply with certain practices could impact a company negatively. Most companies have developed compliance programs in order to benefit their company in a number of ways. Compliance can improve morale among employees, provide protection in the event of a lawsuit or other legal matter, and much more. Scanning documents enables businesses to more easily comply with necessary rules.
  • Easier audits – whether your company is conducting an internal audit, it’s being audited by the state or even the IRS, having easy digital access to any necessary documents can make the entire process a lot simpler. Just the thought of being audited can cause everyone to experience higher levels of stress. The ability to quickly and easily provide the requested documents to the auditors can accelerate the entire process, causing it to be finished a lot quicker.
  • Increased space – many offices quickly run out of space when they choose to conduct business in a traditional way. You would be surprised at how much space files can take up and how quickly they can accumulate over a short period of time. However, by opting for working with a professional third-party scanning company, you never have to worry about accumulating files and creating an eyesore at your company again, nor do you have to worry about running out of space. In fact, you will have more space that you can utilize for other, more important reasons.

So, if you have been hesitant to switchover to document scanning because you’ve been worried about scanned copies of documents being considered legal and admissible in court, then there is no need to worry any longer. As long as the documents are exact duplicates of the original and provide accurate information, then you will be in compliance with the law. Now, instead of making the management of documents more difficult than it has to be, you can now allow yourself to save money and take advantage of the many other benefits that the scanning of documents will provide for you.