The Admissibility of Computer Generated Evidence – Evans Ufeli Esq.

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Evans-ufeli
Evans Ufeli

It is an established fact that today’s world strives largely on the use of Computers or electronic devices for diverse business and social transactions. The use of computer devices has gained incredible milestone in virtually every areas of the human life such that it is difficult to engage the current societal normatives without a fair knowledge of the use of Computers.  It follows therefore that most of the transactions emanating from these electronic interfaces form large part of materials required as evidence in court. Before the Evidence Act 2011 computer generated evidence were not admissible in our court as a general rule. The 2011 amendment of the Evidence Act facilitated the admission of electronic evidence under our law. The said act also laid down processes under which the electronic generated evidence can be admitted as evidence.

In a court proceedings where a document produced by a computer is relevant to the fact in issue the document is admissible as primary evidence to the extent that the party seeking to tender the said evidence must first prove to the court by way of oral evidence of the statement contained therein and show to the court that the computer itself meet the following criteria as provided by sections 84, 85 and 86 of the Evidence Act 2011.

(i) That the document was produced by the computer during a period when the computer was used regularly to store and process information for the purpose of  any activity carried on over that period, whether corporate  or not, or by any individual;

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(ii) that over that period;  information of the kind contained in the statement or of the kind from which the information so contained in the derive was regularly supply to the computer in the ordinary course of those activities;

(iii) that through out the material part of the period the computer was operating properly or, if not, that in any respect in which it was not operating properly  or was out of operation during that part of that period was not such as to affect the production of the document or the accuracy of its contents; and

(iv) that the information contained in the statement produces or is derived from information supplied to the computer in the ordinary course of those activities.

Now, to show the court  that the above conditions is in existence in favour of the document sought to be tendered the party seeking  to tender same is required to produce a certificate which will ;

(1) Identify the document containing the statement and describe the manner by which it was produced.

(2) Give such particulars of any device involved in the production of that document as may be appropriate for the purposes of showing that the document was produced by a computer, and;

(3) Deal with any of the matter to which the conditions stated earlier related.

Note that the certificate must be signed by a person occupying a responsible position in relation to the operation of the relevant device or the management of the relevant activities as the case may be and this includes the proprietor or proprietress of a business centre.

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However were it is shown that the original document  is destroyed or lost and all reasonable effort have been made  to find it without success and the file in which it was stored in the computer has been deleted or the original documents is in the hand of the person against whom it is sought to be prove or in the hand of some person who is not reachable or who fail to produce the document after due notice a secondary evidence of a document produced by computer will be admissible.

In conclusion, even when this secondary evidence is admissible the conditions set out in Section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act must be satisfied and comply with to all intent and purposes.

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1 COMMENT

  1. […] This has raised a great challenge for the judiciary and the Nigerian Bar Association, to tackle as a matter of national emergency, or else we should all just close down our chambers and leave legal practice for Transactional Lawyers. Why on earth should I bother myself to prepare for a court case in which the outcome is already predetermined? Now the trouble in all of these is that the rich and affluent, the ones so very well connected and powerful, will always get the upper hand in situations of Transactional Justice, which will be a game for the highest bidder. The poor man and his lawyer, the weak litigant and the lowly members of society, stand to lose in all cases where Transactional Justice is at play, as they simply cannot match the stakes. […]

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