Whenever two parties have a dispute that ends up in court, evidence is crucial to the determination of who is right and who is wrong (and who has to pay up). Quite naturally, the courts tend to take a very dim view whenever evidence is misplaced, lost, contaminated or destroyed – whether that’s done through mere negligence or in an intentional act.
Such “spoliation” of the evidence in a case can actually be weighed heavily against your company in a legal dispute, so that makes it very important to have an evidence-preservation plan in place.
How does an established evidence-preservation system help your company?
First, having a solid set of procedures in place whenever there’s a triggering event that could lead to litigation can entirely prevent the accidental loss of critical evidence. If there are no losses, there are no repercussions.
Second, if an accident does happen and evidence is lost, having an evidence-preservation plan in place that’s defensible can help you avoid many of the negative consequences associated with spoliation. Courts are more inclined to leniency when something is clearly an error, not intentional.
What goes into a good evidence-preservation plan?
While this is something that may need to be constantly refined, the basics of your plan should include:
- The recognition of trigger events, which may include anything from a fall by a customer or an employee who makes threats when they’re terminated to a letter of inquiry from an attorney who represents a supplier.
- The designation of those involved in the preservation process, which could include anyone from management to human resources.
- A notification process that makes it clear that a triggering event has occurred and what action each person in the chain should take to preserve any potential evidence.
- A defined storage system, with backups, particularly where electronic data is concerned. You may need to also sharply restrict who can access the stored evidence (and when).
Strategic business solutions to common industry problems can be difficult when you’re trying to handle everything all alone. Find out more about what you can do to protect your company in an increasingly complicated world.