Stephen Mason is a barrister. He was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in November 1988.
BA (Hons) (History and Educational Philosophy), MA, LLM, PGCE (FE)
Stephen is the recognised authority on electronic signatures and digital evidence, and has assisted governments in China, the Middle-East, Central America, and businesses in continental Europe and Africa, including the Corporation of London, the Ministry of Justice of the United Arab Emirates, and the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Stephen is licensed for Direct Public Access. He accepts instructions from solicitors, law officers of governments, company secretaries and corporate counsel.
Stephen undertook a comparative study and analysis of existing national legal provisions that have been adopted or adapted on the effect of electronic evidence on the rules of evidence and modes of proof, with a focus on proceedings relating to civil law, administrative law and commercial law. The final report was presented to the 90th plenary meeting of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation that took place in Strasbourg on 28 October 2015.
Member of the Home Office Expert Panel on Digital Signatures in the Acquisition of Communications Data within the Criminal Justice System. The Digital Signature Expert Panel has a mandate to develop a means of adding evidential force to the recording of the processes involved in authorizing, acquiring and disclosing communications data.
The purpose and background
The Communications Capabilities Development programme brings together work to ensure that, in a changing communications environment, communications data can continue to protect the public and save lives. The Evidential Communication Data theme has commissioned a project to implement the use of digital signatures in the lawful acquisition of communications data under the provisions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The project has two key strands of activity which will provide for the digital signatures in the use of evidential communications data in the Criminal Justice System; evidencing a technical solution, and business change.
The subject matter experts are assisting in defining the technical and procedural requirements to enable the use of digitally signed communications data in evidence. In practice, the requirement of the Expert Panel is to assist with:
1. A critical review of the technical specifications for the implementation of digital signatures through a specified set of acquisition methods including RDHI and Portals.
2. Advising on the level of Information Assurance required in this context.
3. Advising on the practical considerations for the implementation of digital signatures in the Criminal Justice System.
4. Defining success criteria for each stage of implementation.
5. Advising on the transition to operations and associated training requirements.
Stephen has worked with the Commonwealth Secretariat on the International Cooperation Programme regarding the Interception of Telecommunications in the Harare Scheme and the Commonwealth Draft Model Legislation, with a view to developing a framework for the interception of telecommunications.
(i) Practical and clear written advice to governments and businesses, including entrepreneurs and inventors that devise new software applications and products, and who want advice regarding the admissibility of their product in legal proceedings.
(ii) Advice generally on banking, digital evidence, electronic signatures, e-signature products, identity and authentication, security, data protection and related matters to online trading.
(iii) Non-contentious advice and statements to solicitors, in-house counsel, and lawyers in other jurisdictions.
(v) Legal advice for the investigation and collection of digital evidence across jurisdictions.
(vi) He also has experience of organizing seminars and fact finding events for business and governments. If you wish to instruct him, please note the terms that he undertakes work.
The information and any commentary on the law contained on this web site is provided free of charge for information purpose only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. The information and any commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you need to obtain specific, personal advice about a case or matter, you are advised to approach a lawyer with suitable knowledge of the area of law that you need advice on, and not to rely on the information or comments on this web site.
As far as he is aware, he was the first lawyer to write an e-book in 1999 on the Y2K issue (distributed on the cover CD ROMs of PC Magazine in May 1999 and PC Pro in July 1999 to 300,000 readers); he was 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 prepared the digital evidence and electronic signatures part of the syllabus for the British Computer Society ISEB Certificate in IT Law Essentials course in 2006, and has taken part in European Union projects:
Admissibility of electronic evidence in court (AEEC) project
European Certificate on Cybercrime and Electronic Evidence (ECCE)
e-Newsletter dealing with the topic of cybercrime (he was the editor responsible for Jurisprudence and Events)
In 2009, he developed a module on the principles of digital investigations specific to civil proceedings for a course entitled 'DIM 560 Digital Investigation Management' for Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation, Burlington, United States of America, as part of the M.S. in Digital Investigation Management. This required determining the content of the course and identifying a number of experts to prepare various modules of the course.
He was invited by the National Notary Association of the United States of America to help draft the Model Notary Act (1 January 2010)
Stephen advises generally on ATM and internet banking cases, and on the negligence of the bank when money is withdrawn from an account or taken from a credit card as part of a complex fraud.
Stephen represented Mr Job in an electronic signature case in respect of PINs and ATMs in Job v Halifax PLC (not reported) Case number 7BQ00307; date of trial: 30 April 2009; date of judgment: 4 June 2009, the full judgment and a commentary by Alistair Kelman can be found in the Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review, 6 (2009) 235 - 245
(i) legal requirements of electronic signature laws in all major centres of commerce and jurisdictions;
(ii) admissibility of digital evidence and binding legal effect of electronic signatures;
(iii) integration of electronic signatures to acquire products and services in a number of jurisdictions;
(iv) audits and assessments of electronic signature programmes by businesses;
(v) electronic gateways constituting legally means to form contractual relations;
(vi) binding use of electronic signatures with indemnities and guarantees.
More recently, he provided advice to a commercial client on the legal and regulatory factors affecting the use and acceptance of e-signatures in commerce; the extent to which electronic signatures are used today, and in what manner; standardization of technologies and authentication and identification methods; admissibility of electronic records in courts of law; cultural factors that may affect adoption of electronic signatures and records and case law, including admissibility standards for electronic records and signatures in the following jurisdictions: England & Wales, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Russia; Australia, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand; Canada and Mexico.
(i) legal analysis (admissibility, weight, resolution of problems) of software products for inventors, businesses and vendors;
(ii) the legal implications of tendering copies of e-mails, rather than tendering the entire e-mail;
(iii) admission of digital evidence into legal proceedings;
(iv) challenging the weight of digital evidence;
(v) advising the binding effects of digital gateways;
(vi) authentication, retention of electronic documents; e-mail and internet use policies; security policies; interception and monitoring of communications and data protection.
Stephen provides training, seminars and takes part and speak at conferences. Next events with the Academy of European Law:
'Electronic evidence in court', 12-13 March 2015, Lisbon (first in a series of three)
second seminar on e-evidence, 2-3 June 2015, Riga
Stephen regularly speaks at conferences and provides in-house seminars and workshops for national and international organizations at Board level. You may contact him directly or via his agents, Specialist Speakers or JLA.
Stephen is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London.
Stephen has acted as the external marker in postgraduate degrees dealing with digital evidence:
LLM at the University of Oslo (2006)
PhD at the University of Exeter (2013)
The IALS Think Tank on Law Reform has adopted a proposal Stephen's which has been entitled the Mason Report of the IALS Think Tank on the reform of the law concerning the presumption that mechanical instruments - in particular computers (now an out-of-date concept) are 'in order'.
Stephen is a member of:
IT Panel of the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales
The scientific committee of Tech and Law Center, a research center of the University of Insubria (Como)
Society for Advanced Legal Studies
tScheme Limited (tScheme is the national body responsible for accreditation and supervision referred to in Article 3(4) of the EU electronic signature Directive) (He was invited to be an independent member of the Board of Directors in 2009)
He is a friend of:
Global Prosecutors e-Crime Network
Council of Europe Octopus Cybercrime Community