No one likes to think about it, but a lawsuit involving your business could happen at almost any time.
Because business litigation is so common, it’s important to learn about legal discovery.
Being prepared for legal discovery does more than put your mind at ease — it can protect you from legal penalties if a claim arises!
What Is Legal Discovery?
Before a trial between two parties, one party can request evidence from the opposing party. “Evidence” is a broad term — it includes any legal documents that may or may not actually be used as evidence in the trial, instead of just strictly relevant documents. This process is also known as “discovery.”
While some legal documents — juvenile records or privileged product information, for example — are not permitted as discoverable, many business records are. If a party refuses to yield to a legal document discovery request, the opposing party will often seek a motion to compel discovery from the court.
Why Preserving Evidence Is Important
Discovery continues to be important parts of business-related litigation. Many laws require that businesses retain specific documents for certain periods of time. There are also laws that require electronic backup systems.
If your company receives notice of a claim against it, all written and electronic evidence must be preserved. A failure to retain both electronic and hard-copy evidence can result in legal penalties.
If your company has failed to keep evidence or allowed for the destruction of evidence, courts can impose monetary penalties on your company, impose certain sanctions, or even have criminal charges filed. Keeping records will have also have some very useful perks, such as reimbursement of eDiscovery costs.
Steps to Preserve Legal Documents for eDiscovery
Whether you are sifting through an opposing party’s legal documents or keeping your own company prepared, Legal Language Services can help you catalog, organize and summarize legal discovery documents.
Business records in another language may prove difficult to organize. However, these can be cataloged and summarized by Legal Language. Certified translations will make your legal documents court-ready.
Your company should be knowledgeable about the documents being retained. Whether they are paper or electronic documents, they should be regularly reviewed to determine what is being stored, where it is being stored and for how long. This will help your company monitor your information and make decisions about whether too much information is being stored or if it is too easily accessible.
Be sure to have an effective retention policy for company documents that all employees should be aware of. Educating your staff on the obligations to preserve any documents for legal discovery will certainly save time and money, especially if done before a claim for evidence arises.
If your company is on notice of claim, employees should be informed right away. Employees may try to eradicate some files without knowing they may be necessary to the discovery process, and that may inadvertently subject the company to liability.
Additionally, many companies schedule the automatic destruction of electronic or paper information on a regular basis. Does your company do this? Failure to stop those processes could be viewed as willful destruction of evidence, which will not curry favor in court. Effective litigation hold processes can help an employer minimize the burdens of legal discovery.
Contact Legal Language to speak to one of our in-house attorneys about your litigation and eDiscovery needs.