This morning on anchor.fm, Chris Werner spent a few minutes talking to entrepreneurs and small and medium sized business owners about the importance of document production in litigation. While large businesses may be well versed in litigation issues, entrepreneurs and smaller businesses ofter are confused by the process. The following is an overview of document production.
One of the early steps in most commercial litigation is document production. This is a process in which each side requests, and exchanges all documents and information relevant to the case. The term “documents” can mean a lot of things from paper files, to computer files, to email folders, to social media accounts, to backup tapes, and many other things.
Even before you receive a document request, you have a responsibility to preserve information and to not intentionally destroy anything that might possibly be relevant to the case. Once you receive the document requests, you have a responsibility to make a reasonable search and assessment of your records to find all sources of potentially relevant information.
The best answer is that you should never attempt to deal with this yourself. You need to be working with an experienced commercial litigation attorney and you need to do it immediately. If your company is served with a lawsuit, your first call should be to your attorney. Don’t ever attempt to “clean up” your documents. Doing so can cause you huge problems later in the case.
If you don’t handle your documents correctly, you could face a number of very unpleasant consequences. If you actions cause delay or cause the other side to have to spend additional money, a court could impose monetary sanctions, meaning that you might have to pay a portion of the other side’s attorneys fees. Worse, if you alter or destroy information, the court could impose a adverse inference against you, meaning that the court will assume there is missing information that would support the other side. These consequences could have long-term, negative consequences on the case or even cause you to lose the case.
If you have specific questions about a commercial litigation issue, you need to contact an experienced attorney. Also, make sure to check out Chris on anchor.fm: