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E-Evidence

New rules govern your company's electronic files.
March 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/174754

Under amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that took effect December 1, 2006, information stored electronically--including company e-mail--is subject to the same rules of discovery as other evidence.

What does this mean to you? When a business faces a lawsuit, lawyers from the other side can demand documents relevant to the case. And it's illegal to start shredding incriminating papers, which is called spoliation of evidence. What the new amendments clarify is that the party being sued must also turn over electronic information, and purging those files can count as spoliation.

The rules do, however, place time limits on information storage, and they allow companies to purge files routinely, as long as it's not done in bad faith. Here are some areas to consider.

Jane Easter Bahls is a writer in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in business and legal topics.