What is the legal value of native electronic documents (that do not require signature by the parties)?
The majority of legislation generally recognizes the validity and probative value of documents that are natively electronic (i.e., created as electronic originals), subject to compliance requirements.
Electronic records are permitted in Hong Kong through the Electronic Transactions Ordinance. Electronic records, including contracts, cannot be denied in court solely because of the electronic format. In order for an electronic record to be considered valid, the information that’s stored in the electronic record must remain accessible for future reference. Records that are required to be given in person or by mail can be sent through an electronic information system designated by the individual (ex., a document sent to an email address). When there is a legal requirement to retain records, the record can be stored electronically if:
- the information in the original record remains accessible for future reference;
- the electronic copy is retained in the original format in which it was generated/sent/received, or in a way that accurately represents the original information; and,
- the information which enables the identification of the origin and destination of the electronic record and the date and time when it was sent or received, is retained.
Therefore, HR-related documents (e.g. employment contracts, letters of intent, etc.) can be created directly in electronic form, without need for a paper original.
Led by PeopleDoc’s Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, the HR Compliance Assist team relies on a network of internal and external compliance experts and lawyers, including the global law firm Morgan Lewis, to provide clients with best practices and recommendations on topics such as HR document retention, employee data privacy, and HR electronic records. HR Compliance Assist also provides local compliance monitoring and alert services in select countries where PeopleDoc’s customers have employees. HR Compliance Assist is a service exclusively available to PeopleDoc customers.