A litigation hold notice (or legal hold notice) is sent by a company in litigation to its employees and key individuals.
The litigation hold notice outlines their duty to preserve and avoid altering or deleting important information.
This Standard Document includes notes for explanations and drafting tips.
What is a Litigation Hold Notice?
A litigation hold notice, also known as a legal hold notice or document preservation notice, is a standard document from in-house counsel in situations of litigation, government investigations, or audits.
Sent to employees (or government personnel), it instructs them to preserve all pertinent information, documents, data, and records.
This ensures that essential evidence is safeguarded and available for discovery before litigation.
If your organization expects litigation, a litigation hold is necessary.
Employees should be notified when information relevant to discovery arises. You may receive preservation guidelines when someone issues a complaint, demand letter, or preservation request.
You can implement a litigation hold internally or through your attorney with a litigation hold letter.
Failure to comply may lead to penalties like fines, covering the opponent’s litigation costs, or inferences against the non-compliant party.
What is a legal hold notice made up of?
An effective legal hold notice should include:
- A clear description of the litigation or investigation subject matter to help recipients identify relevant information.
- Explicit instructions not to alter or destroy records, with examples of what to preserve (e.g., computers, phones, voicemail).
- Warnings about the importance of compliance and potential consequences of not following the notice.
- Specific guidelines for preserving documents and materials, including relevant dates.
- Explanation that the duty to preserve is ongoing until notified otherwise.
- Contact details for the corporate counsel or an internal point person responsible for the legal hold.
Consequences of not adhering to a legal hold notice?
Not promptly implementing and upholding a litigation hold can lead to severe legal repercussions.
U.S. courts frequently penalize organizations for failing to do so, resulting in consequences like paying the opposing party’s legal expenses, jury instructions against them, evidence exclusion, and, in extreme cases, litigation dismissal.
Best practices for litigation holds
To avoid penalties, organizations must preserve relevant information when litigation is imminent.
Traditional legal hold methods can be costly and error-prone.
An end-to-end management solution is essential for a defensible, consistent, and reportable process.
People, systems, and departments scatter data and documents, rendering manual compliance costly and challenging.
The right legal hold solution centralizes information, integrates with internal systems, and identifies potential custodians efficiently using updated employee data.
Automate processes & create templates
Without automation, staff face difficulties in identifying custodians and obtaining necessary attestations for defensible compliance.
Automation and legal hold templates can save your legal team 75% of their time by providing a consistent, reportable process that reduces litigation risk.
This allows you to communicate instructions to the correct custodians and automate reminders and escalations for timely compliance.