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Why is an evidence preservation plan important?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Business Law

No matter what your industry, legal issues are more of a “when” than an “if.” Whether it’s a contract dispute, a regulatory investigation or a civil lawsuit over a personal injury, your business needs to be ready.

This means having an evidence preservation plan in place. From the moment that you’re put on notice that a lawsuit or a regulatory investigation is in motion or should be anticipated, you have a specific legal obligation to make sure that you preserve documents and data that might be relevant. 

What happens if you don’t take steps to preserve evidence?

The goal of a litigation hold or preservation plan is to keep things fair, and that isn’t possible when one party keeps evidence from the other. 

When evidence is lost or destroyed (or even intentionally withheld), that’s called spoliation – and the courts tend to take a very dim view of the situation. You could find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to the court exactly why you didn’t take steps to secure evidence that you knew was likely to be important. Unless there’s a very good explanation for what happened, your company could end up facing fines and other penalties.

Perhaps more significantly, the court may also decide that your actions were purposeful, or should be treated as such. That means the court can infer that the evidence that is no longer available wasn’t favorable to your position. 

Having a well-thought-out evidence preservation plan is not just a good practice; it’s a business imperative. If you don’t have one in place already, experienced legal guidance can help you develop one – and navigate any future legal challenges.