The Commonwealth Secretariat first published a model law on electronic evidence in 2002 – before the increased use of social media, the advent of the cloud, the development of the internet of things and widespread use of messaging apps. The model law reflected a need to specifically allow the admission of e-evidence at a time when its use was more limited. Further, the 2002 model law inserted admissibility requirements, such as authentication and the best evidence rule, due to the relative novelty of e-evidence at that time.
With the growing use of technology in our daily lives, so the use of e-evidence in legal proceedings has correspondingly increased. With changes in technology and reliance on e-evidence in a majority of legal proceedings, a re-boot of the model law was necessary.
For the last few days I have been in London as part of an expert working group, consisting of senior government lawyers from across the Commonwealth, to discuss requirements for admission of e-evidence and how to ensure integrity of e-evidence when transmitting from other member states.
The expert working group produced an outcome statement making a number of recommendations to draft model provisions to assist member states to update legislation for the admissibility of e-evidence.
I look forward to attending the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in November in Sri Lanka when the next steps in this important project will be decided.