In these times of caution and social distancing, and as the ‘containment’ measures intensify, it is becoming difficult for people to travel to the post office to send or retrieve registered mail, even though post offices remain open. Similarly, the coronavirus could cause mail recipients to not pick up their registered mail at the post office. Companies can very easily avoid these problems and risks with a minimum of adaptation by using qualified or non-qualified electronic registered mail services.
Qualified electronic registered mail has the same legal value as physical registered mail
Qualified electronic registered mail services are very secure services that must meet strict requirements to obtain this qualified certification. Its qualified status triggers several presumptions concerning: the data’s integrity, the identified sender has sent that data, the identified addressee’s receipt of that data, and the accuracy of the date and time of sending and receipt indicated by the qualified electronic registered delivery service.
In short, qualified registered mail has the same legal value as physical registered mail.
Several companies offer qualified services in Belgium and any company established in another EU member state may also offer qualified services in Belgium. You will find all the necessary information about this service on such a supplier company’s website. If you would like to have an overview of the companies that offer qualified services, you can consult the websites of the FPS or the European Commission (see the links below).
Non-qualified electronic registered mail may also produce legal effects
Some of non-qualified electronic registered mail services are also very secure and usually cheaper. Since these non-qualified services do not require certification, there is no official list identifying them. You can easily find them on the internet. However, do check that the service is sufficiently reliable and secure.
Although non-qualified services do not benefit from the presumptions set out above, their legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings will not be denied solely on the grounds that they are in an electronic form or that they do not meet the requirements of qualified electronic registered mail.
In the event of a dispute with the recipient of an electronic registered mail, the court will assess the probative value of the electronic registered mail, and if it considers that the service is sufficiently reliable and fulfils the expected functions, then it will recognise such an electronic mail’s legal effect. Therefore, if the service you would like to use is serious and professional, you should have no problem asserting your rights.
If you would like to avoid unnecessary visits and contact in the post office during this ‘containment’ period, then you can use electronic registered mail services. Many companies offer reliable and secure qualified and/or non-qualified services.
Link to the relevant websites:
The above information is merely intended as comment on relevant issues of Belgian law and is not intended as legal advice. Before taking action or relying on the comments and the information given, please seek specific advice on the matters that are of concern to you.