The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. - Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is email accepted as evidence in romanian courts?

I receive this question very often and one of the answers is: Yes, you can use email in a Romanian court as evidence, in most of the cases but, only if you bring it in court in a proper manner.

Short explanation for non-technical persons:
Depending on the case (criminal or civil), using email as evidence in Romania can be easier or a little bit harder because:
  • in criminal cases the evidence is most often produced by the  state according to their accepted procedures
  • in civil or commercial cases, the evidence must be brought by the interested party and the effort to bring it in a trustworthy form is a little bit higher, especially when that proof is challenged and a a technical expert is needed to prove the message is not counterfeit
I have seen cases in which a person came to me with a simple print of an email asking me to present it in court. When I asked them, do you still have the original message in your inbox on the email server? - in some cases the answer was "no, but I kept the print".
In that particular case, the email cannot constitute evidence anymore, simply because there was no way to verify the authenticity of the message, since the print does not include the full headers (similar to the envelope of a letter, indicating the route, the origin of the letter, etc.) of an email.

So, the simple print can be challenged in court if there is no original on the server that could be investigated by a technical expert.

My advice to those needing to use an email in a Romanian court:
  • keep the original messages in your inbox and in your email program
  • print the message together with it's full headers for refernce (display Full headers or Extended headers in you email program prior to printing)

[original post in romanian language]

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