Friday, August 03, 2001

Noted Rules on Evidence for Electronic Transactions

The Supreme Court released recently the Rules on Evidence for Electronic Transactions. We took time to study the subject, not that we already have our first internet transaction case, but for academic purposes since we don't expect the cases to come in until after the next wave of internet commerce.

We find the most helpful provision in this rule is the one that says that print outs have the same weight and admissibility as soft copies. Prior to the promulgation of the rules, there was no definite rule regarding the admissibility of print outs. There was even one Supreme Court labor case that held that the print out of an email is not admissible as evidence. Considering that soft copies appeared to us, the non-techies, as the primary evidence and the print outs, or so we thought, appeared not much different from the photocopy, lawyers really needed some guidance from the techies in coming up with the guidelines on these matters. Now, the Supreme Court says the print outs and the soft copies are the same, so long as they have the same contents, etc.

We noted, however, that the Rules also provided for notarization online. This looks queer to us because in the offline world when a document is notarized, the notary public is really saying the person appeared before him and acknowledged that the instrument was signed by him in front of the notary etc. If the notarization is online, then the person did not appear before the notary but simply logged on the web. Sometimes, I think we may be taking the internet too far.

But never mind that. The Rules in its entirety is a happy development for Philippine law.

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