Using e-mails in dispute resolution

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 08:33

by Bui Minh Hoang

According to the Law on E-transactions (2005), aside from communication purpose, e-mails also carry evidentiary value. In order to protect their rights, enterprises should pay attention to the conditions, forms, and manners in which e-mails were gathered as well as the time they were sent.

Electronic mails (hereinafter referred to as "e-mails") are one of many expressions of data messages according to the Law on E-transactions (2005). As also stated in this Law, e-mails do have legal validity despite being stored by electronic means and not expressed in the form of documents. In case where the law requires information to be in writing, an e-email shall be considered having document validity if the information contained therein is accessible and usable for reference when necessary. Furthermore, e-mails also carry evidentiary value and are as valid as original copies when satisfying the following conditions:

(1) The contents of the e-mail are kept intact (remained unchanged) since its first origination in the form of a complete e-mail (except for changes in their appearance, which arise in the process of sending, storage or display of the data message);

(2) The contents of the e-mail are accessible and usable in its integrity when necessary.

PLF finds, in terms of legal validity, that the evidentiary value of an e-mail is determined based on the reliability of the manner in which the e-mail was generated, stored or communicated; the manner to ensure and maintain the integrity of the e-mail; the manner in which its originator was identified, and on other relevant factors.

The Civil Procedure Code amended in 2011 regulates that evidence is "legible documents". Also, as stated in this Code, only when e-mails are provided and confirmed by jurisdictional agencies and organisations can they be used as evidence. However when collecting initial evidence, an enterprise may encounter some difficulties in requesting service providers to provide and confirm the contents of e-mails exchanged between the parties.

Therefore, enclosed in the case file, the enterprise can print out e-mail contents that might serve to settle dispute together with a lawsuit petition and other evidence. The purpose of this is to create more bases proving for the enterprise's petition, thus persuading the competent authority to receive and accept to handle its lawsuit petition in a law court.

After receiving and processing the dispute, the competent authority will conduct litigious sequences and procedures to handle the case - such as taking testimony (including self-declaration and testimony forms) of plaintiffs, defendants, people with relevant benefits and obligations - and confronting the involved parties to verify the incident.

On the other hand, in case enterprises, although having applied all necessary measures (having used all manners and ability requesting the other party to provide and confirm e-mail contents, without success), fail to collect evidence being e-mails by themselves, they may request the court to collect them instead.

PLF recommends that during transactional process, enterprises should save history of e-mails exchanged between partners and clients to prevent disputes from happening.— PLF- Law Firm

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