What is a Legal Hold and Why do I Care?

A legal hold, also referred to as a hold, preservation order, suspension order, freeze notice, hold order, or hold notice, is a notice or communication issued to an organization to preserve all forms of relevant information, as a result of a reasonably anticipated investigations, audit, or lawsuit. A legal hold therefore suspends the normal disposition of records regardless of the medium they reside on.

The purpose of issuing a “legal hold” is to prevent spoliation (deletion) or the loss of information that maybe related or relevant to the anticipated legal proceeding. This includes intentional or unintentional deletion of information. A Legal Hold Notice is typically issued to the “key players” to advise them of the preservation requirements.

You as records and information professionals should care because legal sanctions can be applied against your organization if the legal hold requirements are not complied with. This means having procedures/processes in place to ensure relevant information is preserved and deletion activities are suspended until the Legal Hold is lifted.