If the University becomes involved in a legal dispute, a litigation hold may be imposed. A litigation hold compels the University to retain any and all records that may be relevant to a lawsuit that has been filed or one that is reasonably anticipated. Sometimes referred to as a "preservation order," a litigation hold suspends normal record retention periods and requires that records be maintained and not tampered with from that point forward until the hold is lifted.
The University and individuals are exposed to possible liability and sanctions if obligations are not met.
INFORMATION SERVICES "LITIGATION HOLD" DUTIES
- Ask to receive a copy of the Litigation Memorandum from the person or department that issued the "Litigation Hold" notice;
- Read the notice carefully. Follow specific instructions. Consult with designated contact person with questions;
- Keep a detailed log - time, date and specific actions taken in case you are asked to provide it to those managing the case;
- First priority is to locate and preserve electronic records. Electronic records may be in the form of e-mails and attachments, word processing documents, calendars, scanned-in documents voice mails, videos, photos, etc.;
- At some point you may be instructed to copy all or certain records and send them to those involved in managing the case. Do not make hard copies of electronic records and delete the electronic formats; records should be preserved in their original format;
- Store all records in a safe place where they will not be destroyed. Suspend any routine destruction of records;
- Preserve new records generated or received after the litigation hold;
- Hold all records until you receive final notification (via email or letter) that confirms the matter is resolved. At that time, document retention reverts back to the regular records retention schedule; do not simply discard/delete the documents;
Feel free to check in with the designated person managing the complaint or litigation to check on its status.
It is important to note the significant difference between archives and backups. Backups are created for disaster recovery - preserving a "snapshot" of data at a given point in time in order to restore severs or other platforms after a system crash, accidental deletion or data corruption. Backups store all content in a raw, unorganized form. Conversely, archives preserve a complete record of all information to satisfy e-discovery requests, audits, or legal case assessment. Unlike backup data, archived content is indexed to provide easy access. Thus, each method serves a different and essential function in information governance. University Information Services currently does not have automated data management mechanisms for e-discovery and electronic records archiving.
When notice is received that the litigation hold is lifted, normal records retention periods are reinstated.
Last reviewed 1/8/2024