Are my scanned documents legally admissible?

Yes, if the correct procedures are followed when creating images from the original documents & data. Read on to find out more.

There are two questions we are often asked when it comes to record retention and legal admissibility:

Can we destroy the paper files once they have been scanned?

Are the scanned files legally admissible?

The answer to both is yes, if the correct guidance is followed, and that depends on the type of organisation:

  • HMRC Guidance: general business records which need to be retained for 6 years for VAT purposes
  • FSA Guidance: IFAs and investment companies record keeping
  • Law Society Guidance: Law firms

Click here: Extracts from the guidance

BS 10008 (BIP 0008)

Whichever guidance on electronic document storage you use, there is an important British Standard called BS 10008 (preceded by BIP 0008) which specifies the correct processes and steps to ensure that when converting from paper to electronic records, you end up with legally admissible documents.

“BS 10008 is the British Standard that outlines best practice for the implementation and operation of electronic information management systems, including the storage and transfer of information. It is designed to help you verify and authenticate all your information to avoid the legal pitfalls of information storage” – BSI Group 2016

The Key principles behind BS 10008 are:

Authenticity – Being able to prove that the scanned, electronic documents are authentic copies of the original paper documents.

Storage and access – Procedures in place including scanning, archiving, off-site storage and training.

Adherence – A structured audit trail is created resulting in a Certificate of Conformity. This trail shows that the original papers have now been destroyed and therefore the scanned images are now deemed to be the originals.

It is essential to choose a supplier such as Topwood, whose process for conversion complies with BS 10008.

By adhering to BS 10008 standards we ensure that your scanned documents are legally admissible, and we take away much of the hassle that comes with being compliant.

Once we have scanned your documents there are several options:

  • we return the hard copies to you
  • the hard copies are shredded in our secure on-site, cross cut shredder to reduce the risk of a data breach and ensure GDPR compliance
  • the hard copies are stored in our secure document storage facility
  • your electronic documents are returned to you on a secure memory stick, CD or DVD
  • the electronic documents can be stored in TopDrawer; our web-based service which offers secure and instant access to scanned images

Take a look at our scanning calculator to see how much it would cost to scan your documents. Chat online, email or call us for a quote.

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FAQ: What is the guidance on ownership, storage and destruction of documents?