Endangered large

Documents, correspondence and other records created in the course of contractual dealings between individuals and agencies, especially where the subjects are of long duration and may be subject to legal scrutiny at undefined points in the distant future.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: No change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2018

Previous category: Endangered

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within twelve months

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, with the deployment of proven tools or techniques.

Examples

Contracts, receipts, correspondence, license agreements, building consent, warranties, and any other document or record that represents a legally binding transaction or permission. Such records may be useful in the avoidance or resolution of disputes whether in court or prior to proceedings. Includes Online Terms and Conditions for e-commerce or end-user agreements for services.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Loss of context; loss of authenticity or integrity; external dependencies; poor storage; lack of understanding; churn of staff; poorly framed or over-zealous disposal; ill-informed records management; misplaced fears with respect to data protection, encryption.

Vulnerable in the Presence of Good Practice

Well managed data infrastructure; preservation enabled at the point of creation; carefully managed authenticity; use of persistent identifiers; finding aids; well managed records management processes; application of records management standards

2019 Review

This entry is a subset of an entry made in 2017 for ‘Digital Legal Records and Evidence’ which the Jury has decided to split into four more discrete entries this year. It has significant overlap with a separate entry about Pension Mortgage and Insurance Records, except that those are created explicitly with the expectation that they are tied to long-lifecycle products and are held by long lived agencies who provide those products. This entry notes that many digital records have value over the long term which may not be immediately obvious at the point of creation.

Additional Jury Comments

Legal agreements should be dealt with through records management standards and processes with agencies who have experience of handling this.


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