We are often called upon to litigate disputes involving lost or missing documents. Contracts, receipts, cancelled checks, invoices and other documents are often the best evidence to prove – or disprove – a claim.
A litigant who enters a courtroom without this evidence is at a serious disadvantage.
Consider, for example, the case of a vendor who swears that invoices were unpaid. If the buyer cannot produce receipts, cancelled checks or other documentation of payment, the dishonest vendor will have a significant advantage. Likewise, it is difficult to enforce a contract that can’t be produced in its signed form.
A well-drafted document retention plan can help protect you and your business from these threats. The plan should consider factors including the statutes of limitation, applicable statutory or regulatory document retention requirements, and the nature of the document. For example, some documents, such as charters, deeds and wills, might need to be kept indefinitely. Other type of documents can be discarded relatively soon.
Your attorney can help you prepare a document retention plan that suits your needs. This type of planning can pay dividends if you find yourself in need of documentary evidence.