The Importance of Document Retention

The defence of liability claims is enhanced by good document management practices by insurers and their insureds.

In multiple party litigation documents such as safe work method statements, toolbox talk notes, induction records and accident record books are essential sources of evidence in establishing a defence to a claim. These documents are invaluable in respect to the qualification of experts on liability.

In the ACT discovery of documents takes place in almost every liability claim pursuant to Rule 607 of the Civil Procedure Rules 2006. An efficient system of document management and retention saves considerable time and cost in respect to the preparation of an affidavit verifying documents.

An insured that manages its records following the completion of a major project or in respect to standard operating procedures for each process and piece of equipment will be placed in a superior position when responding to general allegations of negligence made by a plaintiff and to establish a defence of contributory negligence. These records will also be invaluable in responding to any claims for contribution or indemnity by joint tortfeasors.

It is prudent practice for any insurer on receipt of a claim notification from the insured or a broker to immediately request the identification of all documents in the insured’s possession that may be relevant to the claim and for the insured to identify the location of any archived records which may need to be recalled.

Further if the importance of document retention is ingrained at the management level of insureds this should assist in the fast and efficient management of claims and enable any defences available to be argued based on evidence rather than a belief as to what the procedures may have been at any given time.

Post by Mark Robinson

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