This article on the Osborne Clarke website looks at some of the topics surrounding what is becoming an increasingly popular technical process; the automatic deletion of documents and emails after a set period of time.
This is often a technique employed by companies to help manage data, optimise system use and remove redundant data. Ultimately, it’s becoming more widely used given GDPR and other related laws which states that data should not be kept longer than is necessary for the purposes for which it was processed. This can often conflict with litigation obligations (as is mentioned by the team at Osborne Clarke in the article) and therefore the timing of when to suspend such as a process can become debated...as it was in the case referred to in the article.
What is important in my opinion, is ensuring that there is awareness of these processes; how they are used and what the settings are, so that they can be carefully considered during the early stages of a case.
As the authors state: “Consideration should therefore still be given at as early a stage as possible to suspending deletions, once litigation becomes a prospect in a case.”
Under both the CPR r31 and the DPS, the duty is confined to documents which would otherwise be disclosable. Of course, the problem with an automatic deletion system is that it may not always be immediately apparent whether relevant documents are being destroyed. Consideration should therefore still be given at as early a stage as possible to suspending deletions, once litigation becomes a prospect in a case.