Despite having been in the digital age for a few decades, paper remains an integral part of our life. There is still widespread use of paper for writing and record keeping, from scribbling notes as reminders to oneself to documenting important information. The bulk of paper is commercially mass-produced, with small amounts of it being handmade.
Paper comprises mainly cellulose, with small amounts of chemical additives. Specific features such as watermarks may be imparted onto paper during the manufacturing process. For specialty papers, features such as coloured fibres or invisible designs printed with UV activated materials are used in the manufacturing process. An example is safety paper, which is paper that has been treated with chemical eradicators and mechanical erasers to show evidence of attempted alteration.
Forensic examination of paper
The chemical composition of paper, as well as features imparted to it during the manufacturing process, facilitates the identification and characterisation of paper. Paper analysis may provide complementary evidence towards establishing the authenticity of a document. It may be used to ascertain whether different pages of a document were printed or written on the same type of paper, or for document dating to determine whether a sheet of paper is as old as it was purported to be.
In cases where page substitution is suspected, analysis typically involves comparing the papers within a multi-page disputed document, or comparing a disputed sheet of paper with paper from a known source. Paper analysis may also involve detecting anachronisms in the components of the paper substrate if it is suspected that the document has been recently fabricated and backdated many years.
Like inks, paper can be examined using non-destructive and destructive techniques. Since documents submitted for analysis are usually of value, chemically non-destructive techniques are typically preferred. Techniques commonly used range from visual examinations, microscopy, optical examinations using different lighting conditions and lights of different wavelengths, and spectroscopy that examines the chemical ingredients in the paper.
Case study,: Our experts examined a disputed document and cast doubt on its authenticity, based on the signature and the age of the paper. The case, heard in the High Court, was eventually settled at an amount that was much less than the original compensation sought by the opposing party.
If you suspect that some pieces of paper in a document appear different from the others or that the piece of paper doesn’t appear to correspond to its purported age, consult us via phone at 6459 0494 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Suit No. S 566/2014