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E-Evidence

New rules govern your company's electronic files.

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This story appears in the March 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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.

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