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Normandin Beaudry

Quebec act to establish a legal framework for information technology

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There, in black and white

NB Bulletin Vol. 4 N. 15, December 2001

According to the decree of October 17th, 2001, the Quebec act to establish a legal framework for information technology took effect last November 1st.

Below are some of the main objectives of this act:

  • Ensure legal security and integrity of all official documents.
  • Recognize the equivalence and interchangeability of technological documents versus traditional documents (for example, a printed copy).
  • Harmonize technical systems and standards allowing for the use of technological documents.

Technological documents include any e-mail, Internet document or any other document of an electronic nature. A voicemail is also considered a technological document.

Pursuant to this act, the integrity of a document means that it is possible to verify that the information it contains has not been altered and is in its entirety. Thus, the act provides that a technological document of which the integrity is preserved has the same legal value as a printed document. However, documentation establishing that the transmission method has effectively preserved the integrity of the electronic document must be available for introduction as evidence, if required.

As stipulated by the act, when a signature must be affixed to a technological document, this requirement can be fulfilled by any process meeting the Civil Code provisions. However, please note that neither the act nor the Civil Code specifically defines what an electronic signature is. Therefore, a designation of beneficiary accompanied by an electronic signature could be valid.

It is important to specify that no one can ask another person to acquire a specific technological equipment to transmit or receive documents unless required by law or an agreement. Moreover, no one could be forced to receive a document other than a printed document.

It will be interesting to see what effect the enforcement of this act will have in the future on the transmission and receipt of technological documents as far as benefit and retirement plans are concerned. Specifically, this act should facilitate the exchange of technological documents by recognizing their legal value. For example, the act legitimates, within the parameters it specifies, the use of technological documents to join a group insurance plan, the designation of a beneficiary and the posting of an insurance brochure on the organization´s Internet or Intranet site. The same conclusion also applies to Internet sites recently developed by insurers giving benefit managers and insured persons access to various informations regarding their insurance plan and allowing them, in some cases, to submit their claims.

We will keep you informed of future developments concerning this act.

 

Please feel free to contact us for additional information.

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Montreal, Quebec, H3B 1S6