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Can document authorship be determined using copies?

document authorship

The digital age has resulted in an ever-growing number of reproduced documents, created using processes such as scanning and printing, photocopying or facsimile. If you are considering using the services of a forensic document examiner, however, should you be sending them copies or can document authorship only be accurately determined with the original documents?

As you will see from browsing our website, we generally request access to original documents when examining handwriting or signatures to determine whether they are genuine or not.  This is because certain distinguishing features of a person’s handwriting or signature may not be visible on a copied document. For example, the sequence of strokes or the fluency of the writing may not always be apparent when viewing a copied document.

However, as we appreciate that it is not always possible to work from an original document, it may still be possible for us to carry out a forensic document examination to determine document authorship using copies, provided they are of a high quality.

Document authorship using copied documents

If an original document has been destroyed, or you cannot get access to it, then we may still be able to provide insights into the authorship of the document, based on a good quality copy. For example, copied documents that have been scanned in colour at a resolution of at least 300ppi will generally be better than photocopied documents or those scanned at a low resolution.

When sending us copied documents please ensure that they are:

  • High quality copies – reproduced where possible as high resolution scanned documents
  • Not multigenerational – i.e. copied from the original document and not copied from a copy.
  • Reproduced in colour where possible rather than in black and white

What to do if you have an authorship dispute

If you need to determine who wrote or signed a document, or are in the middle of an authorship dispute and need to prove a document has been forged, then you could benefit from a forensic document examination.
Our experts provide a free advice and quotation service. Contact us today on 0121 781 7216 and we can determine whether an examination is feasible and what specimens we will need before providing you with a written quote.

The appeal was allowed, primarily due to the expert evidence in relation to ESDA. The convictions have been quashed. We are very grateful for your assistance throughout and hopefully look forward to working with you again in the future.

Solicitor – Northern Ireland


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