Fax machines are still widely used tools for communication in the business and legal sectors. Even with the advancement of technology, video chats and electronic mail, many legal processes require printed and signed transcripts.
This is to ensure a physical record is stored in place for future needs. Hence, you might have wondered at some point in your life: are fax copies legal documents? Is a fax of a signed document legally admissible? Here, we will answer that question for you.
A Quick Introduction to Faxes
Faxing dates back to an 1843 invention, and patent, by Alexander Bain, which pre-dates even the telephone. But it took over 125 years for popularity to take hold, when in the 1970s faster, cheaper and more efficient fax machines began to appear. As a result, companies around the world started faxing.
A fax is simply the transmission of any scanned material over a telephone line. The recipient of the documents would have their phone line hooked to a printer that will automatically print a copy of the scanned material.
Since its introduction, fax machine use has dwindled over the years, thanks to email, scanners, and app-based alternatives. However, faxes are still dominant in many small and large offices around the world. That is because this machine still offers more benefits than emailing scanned documents.
The Benefits of Faxing
All companies – whether business, legal, or financial – wish to have secure communication tools to successfully protect confidential data of both consumers and employees. While most methods of document transmission have some risks, faxing does have its benefits.
Telephone line transmissions are extremely difficult to interfere or be tampered with. So while interception is possible with the right equipment, the actual authenticity of a faxed copy is normally not questioned. This superb protection against online hackers and criminals makes most fax copies legal documents, such as in contract-adhered deals.
There is also now a thing called cloud faxing, which provides extra safety and is even more cost-effective. Cloud faxing allows for automatic encryption before, during and after transmission.
A delivery receipt is provided as well, with date and time stamps to the sender. Minor details such as those are worth more than gold for certain court cases.
Another benefit of faxing is speed – emailing may have the same response times, but with fax, you automatically receive a printed copy of a document. There is no need to set up printer configurations or review if the paper size is adequate.
Are Fax Copies Legal Documents?
Fax copies can be considered legal documents and are often accepted as such in many agencies and establishments. Thanks to the almost flawless anti-tampering method when it comes to faxing, many businesses will accept a faxed copy of an original document, such a signed contract, as legally binding.
However, exceptions to every rule exist. Conditions will vary from country to country, state to state and even agency to agency. In other words, as often as fax copies are considered legal documents and accepted as proof of a contract’s existence, there are exceptions.
Common sense states there can only be one original document, also referred to as a hard copy with a “wet signature.” Moreover, not all institutions, agencies, or establishments will accept a faxed or scanned copy of an original. This is mostly true for transcriptions or processes completed involving government agencies.
If you have any doubts, it is best to call and ask about the acceptance of fax copies as legal documents, in order to prepare ahead of time and not be unpleasantly surprised.
Faxing may not have as many supporters and users of scanners and email, but it is still one of the best methods of communication where legal documentation is concerned. Fax machines are also available throughout the world in various degrees and have gotten even better as time has progressed.
Although not everyone uses it these days, it is currently a favoured communication tool used in legal firms and business offices that require physical copies of each and every transaction.