Originals: So Last Century

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At one point in time, an original meant something. Now with the proliferation of computers, cellphones, and web based platforms, we create and store most documents electronically. This new reality has redefined the value and definition of an original copy. But like most things, the court system has largely ignored this new development.

In Ontario, our courts continue to demand that the original document be filed with the court. And in doing so, has failed to justify why this is necessary in 2016.

As a relative newcomer to the profession, I ask: why does our court need original affidavits of service, original affidavits, or for that matter original of anything to be filed? What purpose does it serve in 2016? Is the original really better evidence? Are we just assuming that originals keep people honest? If so, where’s the proof?

As we move towards electronic filing and electronic document systems, I hope that our courts do away with this outdated obsession for originals. Originals don’t mean anything when we can produce and reproduce anything at a moments notice on computers. It’s in the context of the ubiquitous computer that begs the question: “are originals so last century?”

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