Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 20th July 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 9 July 2020 to Question 69550 on ICT, for what reason his Department determined that the wide application means the presumption in law that computer systems are working properly is unsuitable for review in light of the changes since 1999 in the (a) design, (b) operation and (c) ubiquity of computer systems.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The common law presumption of correct functioning of a computer is rebuttable if there is evidence to the contrary. In such circumstances it is for the party seeking to produce the computer record in evidence to satisfy the court that the computer was working properly at the material time.

We cannot ignore the impact that the dispute over the Horizon Accounting System has had on the postmasters affected and it is vitally important that the Government ensures that lessons are learned from the handling of this case. That is the purpose of the Review announced by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. However, there is nothing to suggest at this stage that a change is needed in the common law presumption which is relied upon to conduct banking and other financial transactions and legal proceedings in many other cases.

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