Original Document requirements ..please advise 2703

  • I have recently been trying to get my large company to use scans/email to send as many documents as possible, since we spend countless dollars on overnight delivery. But, our corporate office says that would be against Sarbanes Oxley compliance, is this true??
    If so, there is a new thing called registered email in which you get an automatic message back to you stating when your email was recieved, by whom, and what was in it. This is legal proof, that would hold up in court. Would this allow the documents to be considered ‘original’?
    Please Advise…

  • Hi Robina and welcome to the forums 🙂
    I’d like to qualify my suggestions below as I’m more of an IT person and I wasn’t certain what types of documents are being sent. If these documents are very important in nature and are legally binding, sending them via certified mail is indeed a well established practice.
    While SOX requires strong controls for IT financial systems and workflows, it does not specify whether something should be mailed or sent in an electronic format. As SOX regulations are interpretive and subjective, companies have flexibilities in how they implement business solutions.
    Your SOX coordinator may see some advantage in mailing from a controls standpoint by using certified mail (and it’s indeed required for certain situations). Certified postal mail acknowledgements might stand up in court than documents sent by email.
    If these documents are more routine in nature, companies can safely exchange documents by email. The timestamps plus server backups can provide a legal record there as well (but it’s a little tougher to work with in court cases). Email works best when both business partners have an established and routine framework of communications.
    For ‘registered email’ to work both parties must agree to all standards, procedures, and exchange techniques. As noted earlier, email records can be used as evidence in court (although it might require more work to demonstrate the proof of evidence). It’s a lot easier for someone to state ‘I didn’t get the email’ than to have their ‘John Henry’ on a signed document 😉
    I’m certainly on the side of saving time, costs, and paper in using technology. Maybe in reviewing this, some VIP items might need to be sent by registered mail, where less critical documents could be sent electronically (e.g., as email or Word/PDF attachments).

  • As Harry mentioned, there is nothing in the SOX rules concerning original documents. This is more of a question for your Legal team as to what they consider proper support for legal purposes.

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