Companies risk inadequately protecting themselves from litigation by flaws in their email archival policies
An independent survey, commissioned by email management specialists Mimecast, shows that many British businesses are failing to put in place effective procedures to archive and retrieve emails, which could jeopardise their ability to defend themselves effectively in a legal dispute. The research, conducted amongst 125 IT managers, by market research company emedia, discovered that 25% of companies are unable to access an email sent three years ago. What’s more 69% of companies cannot produce a comprehensive email audit trail of these records that would be admissible in court as evidence.
The speed and effort involved in retrieving emails from several years ago was also a factor: 29% of respondents admitted that it would take them days or even weeks to retrieve a copy of a three-year old email. One possible explanation for the difficulty in retrieving email could be explained by another finding, showing that 42% of IT managers consider that it is not their responsibility but that of the individual employee to store and manage their own emails. An additional 15% believe that it is down to the board of management to define email management policies, which it is their duty to enforce.
James Blake, Chief Product Strategist at Mimecast, believes that this lack of forward planning leaves a large number of companies exposed to substantial risk of being unable to defend themselves adequately in the event of civil or criminal litigation. He adds, “It’s a fact of life that the majority of organisations get involved in some sort of litigation process at some stage in their development. Being able to assemble a full and complete record of email evidence allows you to accurately assess the case either for prosecution or defence purposes and is vital to determining the best course of action. Email is the de facto communications method for businesses and is a key element of presenting or defending a legal case, as well as proving compliance with industry regulations. Technologies, like Mimecast’s cloud-based computing service, have the advantage over server-based email security and archival systems, of being able to offer a bottomless, secure email archive capable of providing a comprehensive audit trail to show who was copied, delivery receipts, content attachments as well as a full record of all related emails, which is accessible in an instant.”
Stewart Room, partner and technology specialist at legal firm Field Fisher Waterhouse and author of ‘Email: Law Practice and Compliance’ commented,” Being able to give full disclosure of emails in litigation is only one of the challenges facing organisations; they also need to ensure that their emails are of sufficient probative value and evidential worth. This needs technologies which can produce comprehensive and accurate audit evidence of all keys events that have happened to the email after its initial sending or receipt."
Mimecast delivers cloud-based email management for Microsoft Exchange, including archiving, continuity and security. By unifying disparate and fragmented email environments into one holistic solution that is always available from the cloud, Mimecast minimizes risk and reduces cost and complexity, while providing total end-to-end control of email. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2003, Mimecast serves approximately 4,000 customers worldwide and has offices in Europe, North America, Africa and the Channel Islands.
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