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Electronic means are increasingly replacing ‘paper documents’ in commercial transactions. E-mail, cell phones, or even messaging apps are being systematically utilized by businesses in signing, exchanging information and implementing contracts. The trend is that companies generally prioritize electronic means first and only retain paper documents as a ‘back up’ measure in case of disputes. There are also enterprises are committed to using 100% electronic means instead of paper documents. Quick, convenient, cost-effective, and efficient are among the advantages to doing business electronically. However, there are often certain risks lurking that occasionally prove to be fatal. Questions concerning the sender, time of sending, receipt of goods, recipient, and authority have always been a never-ending source of dispute between parties. Businesses who are careless likely face severe consequences such as penalties, loss of business, payment of compensation or even damage to the company’s reputation in the market.
As such, the question is: How to control the risks? Can electronic means completely replace ‘paper documents’? Can data extracted from electronic means be admissible as evidence? How significant is electronic evidence in commercial transactions and dispute resolution?