Litigation holds are issued to ensure documents are preserved for legal reasons.
Legal holds or Litigation Holds are written directives to preserve potentially relevant documents for a legal matter. The Federal Court in Nebraska has published 10 Tips for ensuring compliant litigation holds are issued such as their scope, distribution, timing and planning. Legal holds are important because they work to notify employees of an organization and others who may be custodians of documents and ESI that could eventually be used as evidence in a legal matter.
How do legal holds relate to eDiscovery?
Legal holds are a critical early step in the preservation process required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and all equivalent State rules. Failure to issue a legal hold may lead to sanctions and even the loss of a case.
Legal hold software automates and tracks the process which can become unwieldy when involving many custodians across many legal matters. Legal hold software helps manage the overall process but is not required by law. Many parties track and manage legal holds manually using spreadsheets and email to distribute a legal hold memorandum which typically describes the scope of the litigation hold, the types of documents to be preserved and the timeframe for preservation.
Good legal hold processes require planning and compliance among recipients including acknowledgments by those issued the legal hold and frequent reminders, by the legal staff managing the litigation hold process, of the relevant preservation obligations.