Do you have any comments with regard to having originals (with original ink) on file. Especially in this day of E-commerce? I typically would want the original contract. My question more specifically centers around the use of faxed or e-mailed forms (work orders) for small add-on work for existing contracted customers. I see Hofer–v-Young (California), determined a fax to be a written document. I understand the use of thermal paper faxes and the resultant text deterioration over time is a “permanent” records storage issue. I also read that even some real estate deals are handled entirely by fax. Another way to state my question is; does the lack of an original pose a significant problem in the event of litigation or collections?

Roger W. Schaffert

Consulting, Sales, Support, Design

U.S. Protective Services



What you really want to know if whether something other than an original, inked, document will be admitted into evidence in a court of law or other legal proceeding.

The general answer is YES. Most jurisdictions will permit photo copies, whether they be from a copy machine or fax. To have a document admitted into evidence you need to be able to establish that it is bona fide and that the party to be charged agreed to the document. Agreement can manifest itself in different ways. One way is to sign the document. Another is to sign another document that references the other document. Other forms of proof may be emails that can be traced to the party's IP address, a fax that comes the party's fax line, or even course of conduct that evinces consent to the terms of the agreement.

Of course an original, signed, document is your best evidence. You may however have company policy to photo copy contracts, scan and save, or microfish. All would be acceptable once you testify that your procedure to duplicate the original in some way was followed and that your copy is an exact copy of the original.

Keep in mind that I am discussing alarm contracts here. There are documents, such as deeds, that are filed with government office that require originals and even the specific color ink.