Legal Document Scanning
Law firms have always produced a significant amount of paperwork – it’s something that simply comes with the profession. With this in mind there’s never been a better time to partner with BPMS for your legal document scanning and document management requirements.
Law firms, like any organisation will be looking for a number of essential criteria to be met before considering parting company with their documentation.
The most common questions we are asked are:
Q: We have numerous offices in the UK – can you accommodate this?
A: Yes we can, we have a fleet of vehicles giving full coverage of the UK. We run collections to meet each customers varying needs.
Q: How do I know my documents are safe?
A: Our vehicles are GPS tracked, all staff are security checked to BS7858 standards, mobile phones are banned on our premises and security is very strict. We already work with some of the most sensitive data imaginable – medical records, fire arms certificates, employment records, celebrity records and staff salary details of high profile financial organisations.
Q: Our documents are odd sizes, have handwriting and are often bound – can you work with these?
A: Our preparation department are tasked specifically with dealing with this sort of issue. Removing staples, sticky notes, paper clips, bindings and getting documents in a workable order is all in a days work.
Q: We’ve currently got thousands of documents in storage. What can we do?
A: Many of our customers have records in storage and this means a growing monthly bill and slow retrieval times. Our archive scanning service is the answer. We can scan all your old document archives and make them available to you either on our own hosted platform or we can interface with you current database or document management software. Moving forwards its simply a matter of staying on top of your documents and making sure they are collected on a regular basis.
Q: Can the original document be destroyed once its been scanned? What about BIP 0008 legal admissibility and record retention?
A: The simple answer is YES – as long as you follow the correct procedure. Below you will find information from the Law Society and also from BSI. BSI produce the BIP 0008-1:2008 – Evidential weight and legal admissibility of information stored electronically. Code of Practice for the implementation of BS 10008.
Q: What type of documents can be scanned?
We can scan almost any document, but needless to say some are easier and quicker than others. Our scanning capabilities include the following documents:
- Case files
- Claims files
- Property & mortgage documents
- Financial documents
- Expenses,invoices, receipts
- Memos, hand written notes
Q: We already use case management software, can the scanned documents be inserted into this?
Yes. Once we’ve scanned your documents the data can be manipulated to make it compatible with almost any case management or document management system. Most systems import data in a similar way and we’ve worked with the most well known right through to the most bespoke systems.
What is BIP 0008-1:2008?
“It’s important that organizations realise the value of the information they store and to act under the ‘duty of care’ principle. This relates to data processing, data management and the electronic storage of documents. BIP 0008-1 gives practical guidance on information management, data security and legal procedures. The code of practice is based on BS 10008 – Evidential weight and legal admissibility of electronic information – and can therefore be used as a guide to implement the British Standard.” Taken from BSI – BIP 0008-1:2008
How does it work?
BIP 0008-1 first looks at information management planning and covers various topics within this chapter, including risk assessment, information security policies as well as documentation and records. It also explains best practice methods of data capture and handling, version control and different storage systems that can be used. BIP 0008-1 concludes with audit requirements, planning and procedures, as well as preventive and corrective actions and continual improvement.
The key principles
- Following the key principles ensures as far as possible that scanned documents and images will be accepted as evidence by the courts.
- Authenticity – Processes to be followed at system planning, implementation and the procedures by which the systems should be operated.
- Storage and access procedures – Procedures including scanning, indexing, retrieval, system administration, archiving, off-site storage and training.
- Demonstrability of adherence – A structured audit process resulting in a Certificate of Conformity that displays demonstrability of adherence.
- Images produced are dated stamped and cannot be altered.
- The certification process that we follow ensures a full audit trail of all files scanned and destroyed.
Law Society Guidance
The Law Society provide specific guidance on this in a paper entitled “Guidance – ownership, storage and destruction of documents”.
Some points from the this article you may find particularly relevant are below:
Can I store documents photographically or electronically, and destroy the originals?
Original documents, such as deeds, guarantees or certificates, which are not your own property, should not be destroyed without the express written permission of the owner. Where the work has been completed and the bill paid, other documents, including your file, may be stored, for example, on a CD ROM, computer system or microfilm and then destroyed after a reasonable time. In cases of doubt the owner’s written permission should always be sought. If it is not possible to obtain such permission you will have to form a view and evaluate the risk. When seeking owners’ permission to microfilm or store data electronically and destroy documents, you may wish to reserve the right to make a reasonable charge for preparing copies if they are later requested. See question 4(a) above for the requirements of Customs and Excise.
What is the evidential value of a photographically or electronically stored document where the original has been destroyed?
There is a dearth of judicial authority on this topic and, until the law and practice on the subject of microfilmed or electronically stored documents are clarified, it is only possible to provide general guidelines. The Society has been advised that:
(a) A microfilm of any document in a solicitor’s file will be admissible evidence to the same extent, no more and no less, as the document itself, provided that there is admissible evidence of the destruction of the document and identification of the copy.
(b) Written evidence of the destruction of the original and of identification of the copy will enable the microfilm to be adduced in subsequent civil proceedings (under the Civil Evidence Act 1968) and in criminal proceedings (under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984).
What procedures would the Society recommend where an original document is stored electronically or photographically and then the original is destroyed?
(a) Written evidence of the destruction of the original and of identification of the copy must always be preserved in case oral evidence is no longer available when needed (see question 7(b) above).
(b) There should be a proper system for:
(i) identifying each file or document destroyed;
(ii) recording that the complete file or document, as the case may be, has been photographed;
(iii) recording identification by the camera operator of the negatives as copies of the documents photographed; and
(iv) preserving and indexing the negatives.
(c) If a microfilm, electronically or photographically stored data is required to be produced in evidence, a partner or senior member of staff should be able to certify that:
(i) the document has been destroyed;
(ii) the microfilm, electronically or photographically stored data is a true record of that document; and
(iii) the enlargement is an enlargement of the microfilm, electronically or photographically stored data.
(d) Microfilm copies of some documents (e.g. coloured plans) can be unsatisfactory, in which case the originals should be preserved.
Will I be covered by the Solicitors’ Indemnity Fund if I lose a client’s file or destroy it without the client’s consent?
If you incur liability either to a client or to a third party by the loss or destruction of documents, cover will normally be provided by the Solicitors’ Indemnity Fund.