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Can scan copy contracts serve as valid evidence in China courts?

With the development of network communication technology, the negotiation methods of cross-border trade are becoming more and more convenient, especially in the current situation of restricting personnel mobility due to the novel coronavirus, the common way of transaction between overseas businessmen and Chinese businessmen is to reach an agreement in the form of an electronic scanned contract by using e-mail, Wechat, QQ or other network communication tools.

Meanwhile, many client asked us, can scan copy contract be used in China court when disputes arise? Here is our response:

I. The scanned contract is also a legal and valid contract.

According to Article 63 of the Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (2017 Amendment), Article 469 of the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China and relevant judicial precedents, electronic scanned copies of contracts are formed by electronic data, which can tangibly express the content contained in the contract, conform to the written form of contract, and is also a form of evidence stipulated by law. It means means that the scanned contract is the same as the usual written contract, which is legal and effective in form and can also be used as legal judicial evidence.

II. If the lawsuit goes to the court, the scanned copy needs other evidence to confirm before it can be adopted.

According to Article 11, Article 15, Paragraph 2, Article 23, and Article 90 of the "Some Provisions of the Supreme People's Court on Evidence in Civil Procedures (2019 Amendment)", a scanned copy of the contract can be used as evidence in th