Businesses Need to Develop and Adhere to Document Retention Policies

According to Boyle Fredrickson attorney Erin Fay, the vast majority of most companies’ business-related information is stored electronically, yet document retention and deletion policies are failing to fully account for most organizations’ documents.

“Recent data suggests more than 93 percent of all commercial documents are produced and stored on computers and never printed,” explains Fay. “Yet, only 62 percent of companies have a document retention policy in place, with only a third of those enforcing the policy.”

When a corporation, or individual, is faced with litigation, the law asserts a duty upon that entity to keep any and all relevant documents and data. Failure to properly preserve evidence can subject a party to extreme penalties, including dismissal of a lawsuit (if a plaintiff destroys evidence) or default judgment against a defendant. Other restrictive penalties can severely handicap a company’s ability to argue its case in the courtroom. It is important companies know and comply with the rules.

Knowing when to delete historical documents is as important as knowing when to retain documents. A strong document retention policy can help minimize litigation costs and lessen a company’s exposure of its business secrets.

“Creating and enforcing a document management policy that complies with electronic discovery rules will help to avoid costly, labor-intensive and time-consuming searches,” continues Fay. “It is usually more cost-effective to create a policy prior to litigation than search through an entire system in response to every discovery request.”

A comprehensive document retention policy should address:
what types of documents need to be retained
time when particular types of documents should be destroyed
how a company will respond to a “litigation hold” letter to preserve evidence.

Boyle Fredrickson attorneys are able to provide assistance with any questions about preservation, document management or retention policies.


About Boyle Fredrickson

Established in 1999, Boyle Fredrickson has grown to become Wisconsin’s largest intellectual property law firm. You’ve got ideas, we protect them.

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