BIP 0008 Code of Practice
BIP 0008 Code of Practice for Legal Admissibility and Evidential Weight of Information Stored Electronically
Legal admissibility means whether a piece of evidence would be accepted by a court of law. To ensure admissibility, information must be managed by a secure system throughout its lifetime (which can be for many years). Where doubt can be placed on the information, the evidential weight may be reduced, potentially harming the legal case.
With high levels of electronic management systems being implemented, awareness of the evidential weight of electronic documents is crucial should a dispute arise. The BSI BIP 0008 Code of Practice provides essential guidance on how to ensure that electronically stored information is acceptable in court. It lays down the process, steps and guidelines required when converting paper records to legally admissible electronic records. The selection of a supplier whose process for conversion complies with this standard is essential.
British Standard BS 10008
BS 10008 sets out the requirements for the implementation and operation of electronic information management systems. This includes data processing, information exchange between computers and electronic storage. The standard addresses issues relating to the authenticity and integrity of data, helping organisations to comply with the law and legal procedures.
BIP 0008 Code of Practice
BIP 0008 is a Code of Practice that can be used as a guide to implement the British Standard BS 10008. Originally introduced in 1996 the guideline has been updated several times in order to keep the standard relevant to take into account technology developments. An overview of the current volumes are here:
BIP 0008-1:2008 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.
BIP 0008-2:2008 is primarily concerned with the authenticity, integrity and availability of information transferred electronically.
Email, SMS, instant messaging, web services, web forms, XML and electronic data interchange (EDI) are increasingly being used for business communications. Many existing communications systems are insecure, with the possibility of files being intercepted and amended during the communication process, without the knowledge of the sender or the recipient. This code seeks to define operational procedures which comply with good practice in the field of electronic document communications.
BIP 0008-3:2008 looks at the authenticity, integrity and availability of electronic identities attached to specific documents. The code details operational procedures and technology requirements of providing an identity to a document to attest origin, authority or copyright ownership, including the procedures for the use of certificates which identify individuals or organisations, and using trusted third parties.
What HMRC says about electronic records
A person is required to keep some original documents. For other documents, a person may fulfill their duty to keep records by preserving the information contained in them.
It will still be necessary to keep the original documents unless those original documents have been copied in a way that provides an exact replica. This includes copies on computer-based optical imaging systems, provided the images are full and complete copies (including any valuable information on the reverse) that can be reproduced in a legible form.
What Companies House says
Electronic document images produced at Companies House are scanned, indexed, stored and made available for electronic access as TIF images. No alteration to the content or appearance of original company documents is made during the scanning process at Companies House.
If a document is admissible in evidence, then an electronic image of that document may be treated as secondary evidence in the same manner as a photocopy or a microfiche image. It will be subject to the provisions regarding authentication contained in the Civil Evidence Act 1995 in England and Wales and the Civil Evidence Act (Scotland) 1988 in Scotland.
Under the Companies Act 2006 however, Companies House can also provide a certified copy of a document. This copy is then admissible in evidence as of equal validity with the original document.
What the Criminal Justice System says
Digital working is at the centre of the CJS Efficiency Programme. Criminal justice agencies are now able to share a digital file – instead of paper – to carry out substantial parts of the criminal justice process. To support the move to new ways of working, guidance has been agreed that sets out clearly the legal basis for digital working.
‘Digital material’ can include:
Material created ‘natively’ within a computer system such as e-mails, systems files, digital photographs; or
Material which has been digitised from analogue form such as a scanned copy of a document, faxed document
This website combines a number of guidelines and good practices from regulatory bodies. Whilst this information is created in good faith, and is understood to be correct at the time of writing, Castle accept no legal responsibility for information accuracy, loss or legal action suffered by businesses relying on the advice or information contained. Castle would always advise consultation with a legal expert before destroying any paper documents.