Seminar – LawTechTalk

Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
and the UNSW Law Faculty
invite you to a free seminar
(one of the 2006 Cyberspace Law and Policy Series)


Digital evidence: Issues for lawyers, judges and scholars and what is coming over the horizon



Stephen Mason, barrister and the Director of the Digital Evidence Research Programme at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law


Friday 11 August 2006


1:00 to 2:00 pm, including time for questions


Room 101, 1st floor, (near the lifts behind the stairs)
New Faculty of Law building, near Roundhouse
UNSW lower campus Kensington, Sydney



The digital world is with us for the foreseeable future, and IT will continue to be used for nefarious purposes. Lawyers, judges and legal scholars need to more fully understand the nature of digital evidence. It is important to ensure proof of digital evidence is not sidelined into obscurity. The IT industry provides products on a global scale, and IT has now become ubiquitous. Information technology affects us all, even though we may not appreciate how it affects our daily lives. It also affects human relationships, and in turn, documents created by IT systems are the subject of evidence in legal proceedings.

The networked world in which we live surrounds us - lawyers in particular need to understand the new digital world, because it affects all of their clients, from the simple issue about proving somebody did something to show they intended to enter into a contract digitally (under the generative term electronic signature, once described to the speaker as the burning branch of obscurity) to e-mail correspondence forming the basis of a murder charge, as in the case of Dr Alathea Foster, who was found guilty earlier this year of causing grievous bodily harm to Julie Simpson after discovering a series of e-mails on her husband John Foster's computer


Already, one man has used technology to attempt to provide an alibi after murdering his wife, and the number of people convicted of downloading abusive images of children has increased. The examples of digital evidence included in courts cover a range of areas of law, including:

  • family matters, where one or the other spouse uses e-mail and text messaging to intimidate the other; e-slapping¹ where teenagers attack people and film their attack on a camera on their mobile telephone before circulating copies to friends;

  • the manipulation of digital images to give false evidence, in both parking cases and in matters relating to claims over ownership of intellectual property;

  • in manipulating or altering records to commit internal fraud and

  • the use of technology to obtain access to information to use the identity of a living person or somebody that is deceased.

Lawyers, judges and scholars need to more fully understand the nature of the world in which we now live, the effect the networked world has on our lives, and how it affects the nature of the evidence brought before the courts.

  About the speaker:

Stephen Mason is a Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and Director of the Digital Evidence Research Programme:

Stephen took his first degree after 9 years in bomb disposal, and practised at the Bar, providing, in the most recent past, preventative legal advice to national and international companies in commercial matters, particularly IT, e-business and e-risks. He has also taught student barristers at the Inns of Court School of Law.

As far as he is aware, he was the first lawyer to write an e-book in 1999 on the Y2K issue, and he was also the first barrister to write a set of e-commerce precedents for lawyers on behalf of the Butterworths Tolley Electronic Business Law web site in 2000.

He is also an Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Stephen is a member of the IT Panel of the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales and the correspondents panel of Computer Law and Security Report.

Stephen is currently writing a new book for lawyers entitled Electronic Evidence, and recently published 'Electronic Signatures in Practice' in JHLT. He is the author of Electronic Signatures in Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2003); E-Mail, Networks and the Internet: A Concise Guide to Compliance with the Law (xpl publishing, 6th edn, 2006); the electronic and digital signatures editor and author of Chapter VI ‘Electronic and Digital Signatures’ for the practitioner loose-leaf textbook by M-T. Michéle Rennie International Computer and Internet Contracts and Law (Sweet & Maxwell), and the general editor of the Digital Evidence Journal, incorporating the e-Signature Law Journal. [bibliography]

stephenmason [at]


Entry is free, no need to book. If you are coming from off campus please RSVP to feedback [at]

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