Source: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/c-5/232082.html, 8/31/2006
Here are two excerpts from the Canadian national laws pertaining to the introduction of business records and electronic records as evidence in courts of law.
Inference where information not in business record
30. (1) Where oral evidence in respect of a matter would be admissible in a legal proceeding, a record made in the usual and ordinary course of business that contains information in respect of that matter is admissible in evidence under this section in the legal proceeding on production of the record.
(2) Where a record made in the usual and ordinary course of business does not contain information in respect of a matter the occurrence or existence of which might reasonably be expected to be recorded in that record, the court may on production of the record admit the record for the purpose of establishing that fact and may draw the inference that the matter did not occur or exist.
Copy of records
(3) Where it is not possible or reasonably practicable to produce any record described in subsection (1) or (2), a copy of the record accompanied by two documents, one that is made by a person who states why it is not possible or reasonably practicable to produce the record and one that sets out the source from which the copy was made, that attests to the copy’s authenticity and that is made by the person who made the copy, is admissible in evidence under this section in the same manner as if it were the original of the record if each document is
(a) an affidavit of each of those persons sworn before a commissioner or other person authorized to take affidavits; or
(b) a certificate or other statement pertaining to the record in which the person attests that the certificate or statement is made in conformity with the laws of a foreign state, whether or not the certificate or statement is in the form of an affidavit attested to before an official of the foreign state.
Where record kept in form requiring explanation
(4) Where production of any record or of a copy of any record described in subsection (1) or (2) would not convey to the court the information contained in the record by reason of its having been kept in a form that requires explanation, a transcript of the explanation of the record or copy prepared by a person qualified to make the explanation is admissible in evidence under this section in the same manner as if it were the original of the record if it is accompanied by a document that sets out the person’s qualifications to make the explanation, attests to the accuracy of the explanation, and is
(a) an affidavit of that person sworn before a commissioner or other person authorized to take affidavits; or
Court may order other part of record to be produced
(5) Where part only of a record is produced under this section by any party, the court may examine any other part of the record and direct that, together with the part of the record previously so produced, the whole or any part of the other part thereof be produced by that party as the record produced by him.
Court may examine record and hear evidence
(6) For the purpose of determining whether any provision of this section applies, or for the purpose of determining the probative value, if any, to be given to information contained in any record admitted in evidence under this section, the court may, on production of any record, examine the record, admit any evidence in respect thereof given orally or by affidavit including evidence as to the circumstances in which the information contained in the record was written, recorded, stored or reproduced, and draw any reasonable inference from the form or content of the record.
Notice of intention to produce record or affidavit
(7) Unless the court orders otherwise, no record or affidavit shall be admitted in evidence under this section unless the party producing the record or affidavit has, at least seven days before its production, given notice of his intention to produce it to each other party to the legal proceeding and has, within five days after receiving any notice in that behalf given by any such party, produced it for inspection by that party.
Not necessary to prove signature and official character
(8) Where evidence is offered by affidavit under this section, it is not necessary to prove the signature or official character of the person making the affidavit if the official character of that person is set out in the body of the affidavit.
Examination on record with leave of court
(9) Subject to section 4, any person who has or may reasonably be expected to have knowledge of the making or contents of any record produced or received in evidence under this section may, with leave of the court, be examined or cross-examined thereon by any party to the legal proceeding.
Evidence inadmissible under this section
(10) Nothing in this section renders admissible in evidence in any legal proceeding
(a) such part of any record as is proved to be
(i) a record made in the course of an investigation or inquiry,
(ii) a record made in the course of obtaining or giving legal advice or in contemplation of a legal proceeding,
(iii) a record in respect of the production of which any privilege exists and is claimed, or
(iv) a record of or alluding to a statement made by a person who is not, or if he were living and of sound mind would not be, competent and compellable to disclose in the legal proceeding a matter disclosed in the record;
(b) any record the production of which would be contrary to public policy; or
(c) any transcript or recording of evidence taken in the course of another legal proceeding.
Construction of this section
(11) The provisions of this section shall be deemed to be in addition to and not in derogation of
(a) any other provision of this or any other Act of Parliament respecting the admissibility in evidence of any record or the proof of any matter; or
(b) any existing rule of law under which any record is admissible in evidence or any matter may be proved.
(12) In this section,
“business” means any business, profession, trade, calling, manufacture or undertaking of any kind carried on in Canada or elsewhere whether for profit or otherwise, including any activity or operation carried on or performed in Canada or elsewhere by any government, by any department, branch, board, commission or agency of any government, by any court or other tribunal or by any other body or authority performing a function of government;
“copy”, in relation to any record, includes a print, whether enlarged or not, from a photographic film of the record, and “photographic film” includes a photographic plate, microphotographic film or photostatic negative;
“court” means the court, judge, arbitrator or person before whom a legal proceeding is held or taken;
“legal proceeding” means any civil or criminal proceeding or inquiry in which evidence is or may be given, and includes an arbitration;
“record” includes the whole or any part of any book, document, paper, card, tape or other thing on or in which information is written, recorded, stored or reproduced, and, except for the purposes of subsections (3) and (4), any copy or transcript admitted in evidence under this section pursuant to subsection (3) or (4).
R.S., 1985, c. C-5, s. 30; 1994, c. 44, s. 91.
Authentication of electronic documents
31.1 Any person seeking to admit an electronic document as evidence has the burden of proving its authenticity by evidence capable of supporting a finding that the electronic document is that which it is purported to be.
2000, c. 5, s. 56.
Application of best evidence rule — electronic documents
31.2 (1) The best evidence rule in respect of an electronic document is satisfied
(a) on proof of the integrity of the electronic documents system by or in which the electronic document was recorded or stored; or
(b) if an evidentiary presumption established under section 31.4 applies.
(2) Despite subsection (1), in the absence of evidence to the contrary, an electronic document in the form of a printout satisfies the best evidence rule if the printout has been manifestly or consistently acted on, relied on or used as a record of the information recorded or stored in the printout.
Presumption of integrity
31.3 For the purposes of subsection 31.2(1), in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the integrity of an electronic documents system by or in which an electronic document is recorded or stored is proven
(a) by evidence capable of supporting a finding that at all material times the computer system or other similar device used by the electronic documents system was operating properly or, if it was not, the fact of its not operating properly did not affect the integrity of the electronic document and there are no other reasonable grounds to doubt the integrity of the electronic documents system;
(b) if it is established that the electronic document was recorded or stored by a party who is adverse in interest to the party seeking to introduce it; or
(c) if it is established that the electronic document was recorded or stored in the usual and ordinary course of business by a person who is not a party and who did not record or store it under the control of the party seeking to introduce it.
Presumptions regarding secure electronic signatures
31.4 The Governor in Council may make regulations establishing evidentiary presumptions in relation to electronic documents signed with secure electronic signatures, including regulations respecting
(a) the association of secure electronic signatures with persons; and
(b) the integrity of information contained in electronic documents signed with secure electronic signatures.
Standards may be considered
31.5 For the purpose of determining under any rule of law whether an electronic document is admissible, evidence may be presented in respect of any standard, procedure, usage or practice concerning the manner in which electronic documents are to be recorded or stored, having regard to the type of business, enterprise or endeavour that used, recorded or stored the electronic document and the nature and purpose of the electronic document.
Proof by affidavit
31.6 (1) The matters referred to in subsection 31.2(2) and sections 31.3 and 31.5 and in regulations made under section 31.4 may be established by affidavit.
(2) A party may cross-examine a deponent of an affidavit referred to in subsection (1) that has been introduced in evidence
(a) as of right, if the deponent is an adverse party or is under the control of an adverse party; and
(b) with leave of the court, in the case of any other deponent.
31.7 Sections 31.1 to 31.4 do not affect any rule of law relating to the admissibility of evidence, except the rules relating to authentication and best evidence.
31.8 The definitions in this section apply in sections 31.1 to 31.6.
“computer system” means a device that, or a group of interconnected or related devices one or more of which,
(a) contains computer programs or other data; and
(b) pursuant to computer programs, performs logic and control, and may perform any other function.
“data” means representations of information or of concepts, in any form.
“electronic document” means data that is recorded or stored on any medium in or by a computer system or other similar device and that can be read or perceived by a person or a computer system or other similar device. It includes a display, printout or other output of that data.
“electronic documents system” includes a computer system or other similar device by or in which data is recorded or stored and any procedures related to the recording or storage of electronic documents.
“secure electronic signature” means a secure electronic signature as defined in subsection 31(1) of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.