What if I only have digital copies of my documents?

Legally speaking, freedom of form applies to all documents – with the exclusive exception of certain contracts (see below). You can therefore keep both hard and digital copies of documents. We would however like to point out that in some cases it may be worth keeping the original documents or have PEAX send you the original documents (e.g. records of general meetings or commonhold ownership associations). It is your responsibility as a PEAX user* to find out the details of any exceptions and to decide for which documents an original is required. PEAX does not provide binding legal information and accepts no liability for any damages.

The principle of freedom of form applies to both contracts and general documents. This means that generally only the informal, unanimous consent of the parties involved is required for a contract to come into being. Everything else is “only” a matter of provability in case of dispute. A special form is only required for contracts to become effective if prescribed by law or contractually agreed. Such formalities are only required for the validity of contracts coming into being but not for the validity of their (continued) existence.

This means that contracts do not lose their validity when they are scanned and the original is subsequently destroyed. The contracts are already valid at the time of scanning (provided that the relevant formalities have been fulfilled).

However, we would like to point out that in some cases it may be worth keeping the originals of important contracts for evidentiary reasons. In extreme cases, a counterparty may claim that the signature on the scanned and subsequently printed contract is not yours.

We therefore recommend scanning the contract together with any accompanying documents (e.g. accompanying letters, emails, etc. before and after concluding the contract). This prevents the counterparty from successfully claiming in case of dispute that you did not sign the contract yourself or that your signature has been forged.

We recommend keeping original copies of very important contracts or those for which a counterparty consideration can subsequently be made in whole or in part and disputed. For example: loan agreements (as lender), promissory notes and other service commitments (as creditor), guarantees and warranties, employment contracts and employment contract termination agreements, references, school and training certificates/diplomas, official documents (although notaries also possess copies), handwritten wills (copies of which would be invalid, i.e. the original must be kept!).

 

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