I am not a lawyer. I don’t pretend to be a lawyer. And therefore I take no responsibility for the legal validity of this blog entry. If you need a legal and absolute opinion, please consult with an attorney. That said, the question has come up, can original paper documents be shredded if they were optically scanned and saved as document images during the normal course of doing business. The answer is probably, or better yet, maybe. Actually it depends. What state do you live in? How were the documents stored? When was the image taken? How was the image archived?
Is that clear? No? I understand. Let me clarify. Document images have been accepted in courts for many years. For example, microfilm has been accepted in courts as a substitute for the original document certainly since the 1950’s. Laws exist in nearly all 50 states covering the use of electronic, optical or magnetic media as a substitute for original documents. The basic question generally comes down to, are they accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Well, are they?
So here are some of things you should consider BEFORE you shred your originals. Your documents should be regularly and consistently scanned as a normal course of day-to-day operations. The document images are verified prior to destruction of originals – that is, they are viewed on screen as they are scanned to verify the image exists. They have been stored on media which is read-only. This adds to the trustworthiness of a document image. Images stored on magnetic media, like disk drives can be modified and overwritten with ease. Document images archived on read-only optical disks are very difficult to modify and then re-save in place.
The final answer is check your local state laws and check with your attorney. Then give us a call for a solution.