Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Examination of the Rules on Electronic Evidence in Light of the Best Evidence Rule

The Rules on Electronic Evidence can be considered as the most radical measure that the Supreme Court initiated to cope with the pressing need to address far-reaching developments in technology and mass media that have been drastically modifying and continuously evolving the means by which information is stored and distributed. With it also comes the inevitable challenge of providing ways to be able to make electronic document admissible as evidence.

Section 2 of Rule 3 states that: “An electronic document is admissible in evidence if it complies with the rules on admissibility prescribed by the Rules of Court and related laws and is authenticated in the manner prescribed by these Rules.”

Section 1 of Rule 4 further qualifies that: “An electronic document shall be regarded as the equivalent of an original document under the Best Evidence Rule if it is a printout or output readable by sight or other means, shown to reflect the data accurately.”

The aforementioned provisions can only be interpreted to mean that the Rules on Electronic Evidence still requires the presentation of an electronic document, which must be reduced to a readable printout, for it to be admissible as the best evidence in any given case. While it seeks to solve the problem of presenting an electronic evidence in court, there appears to be a considerable lapse in the law as it confines the best electronic evidence to one that must be tangible and readable in form. This prerequisite absolutely defeats the purpose of making it more convenient and practicable to introduce an electronic evidence, say through the use of a mobile phone to show the existence of a text message or a computer device to prove the receipt or transmission of a particular email at so and so date and time. It is imperative that the Supreme Court fills in this discrepancy in the law should it wish to truly achieve the objective of simplicity and expediency in court proceedings.

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