Last week, MessagingArchitect.com highlighted a Lexology report that has ramifications for everyone involved in the eDiscovery space – including lawyers, corporations, consultants, project managers, and more.
The report, citing a January 2010 New York Federal Court ruling, made it clear that a party’s legal obligation to preserve digitial documents goes beyond the question of intentional destruction, and now includes “gross negligence” as well.
In other words: if a party fails to protect digital documents by “forgetting” to perform back-ups or “accidentally” deleting emails, then it can (and in the New York case, was) be sanctioned by the courts for gross negligence.
And what makes this ruling even more consequential, is that the courts need not be of the opinion that an offending party acted in bad faith. They can simply determine that the party should have been done based on common standards and expectations. They can also order sanctions for “ordinary negligence” when a party fails to provide the courts with relevant digital evidence in a complete and timely manner.
This ruling, and the trend that it will doubtlessly spark, points to a bold bottom-line conclusion: corporations must have an efficient, reliable and appropriate legal discovery solution in place NOW; long before any court request is made.
Because ignorance, incompetence or just general “confusion” about eDiscovery requests are no longer an acceptable response to the courts — if it ever was.