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Legal Hold

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  • (Approved by the Chancellor, May 1, 2007)
  • (Approved by the Chancellor, May 15, 2010)

Purpose

There are circumstances where the normal and routine destruction of records must be suspended according to federal and State requirements and University record retention and disposition schedules.  Present and future records that are involved in litigation, or reasonably anticipated in foreseeable legal action, must be preserved until the legal hold is released by the Office of the University Counsel.

The purpose of this document is to set forth the authority and process for initiating, implementing, monitoring, and releasing legal holds.

Scope

This policy and procedures applies to all University personnel and covers all records, regardless of form, made or received in the transaction of University business.

Definitions and Authority

"Affected University Personnel" means all University Personnel, including Department Heads or Directors, who are in possession or control of evidence, which is the subject of a legal hold.

A "legal hold" is an order to cease destruction and preserve all records, regardless of form, related to the nature or subject of the legal hold.

"Evidence" includes all records, whether in electronic or paper form, created, received, or maintained in the transaction of University business, whether conducted at home or work. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to, paper records and electronic records stored on servers, desktop or laptop hard drives, tapes, flash drives, memory sticks, or CD-ROMs.

"Electronic records" includes all forms of electronic communications, including, but not limited to, e-mail, word processing documents, calendars, spreadsheets, voice messages, videos, photographs, text messages, or information stored in PDAs.

"University personnel" includes all employees, whether permanent, temporary, full-time or part-time, faculty, and student employees.

The authority to place a legal hold is vested in the Office of the University Counsel.

Procedures

  1. Any University personnel who become aware of any litigation, threat of litigation, other legal action, or an investigation by any administrative, civil or criminal authority, through the receipt of notification or other information identifying the possibility of legal action or upon service of a summons and complaint, must immediately notify the Office of the University Counsel. The Office of the University Counsel will determine whether to initiate a legal hold and identify University personnel subject to the hold.
  2. The Office of the University Counsel will notify affected University personnel that a legal hold has been initiated. The notice will inform affected personnel of their obligation to identify and preserve all evidence that may be relevant to the legal hold.
  3. Upon notice of a legal hold, affected University personnel must do the following:
    1. Immediately suspend deletion, overriding, or any other destruction of electronic records relevant to the legal hold that are under their control. This includes electronic records wherever stored, including, but not limited to, on hard drives of University work station desktops, laptops, or computers at their home, on flash drives, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks, diskettes, or PDAs. Electronic information must be preserved so that it can be retrieved at a later time and the information must be preserved in its original electronic form. It is not sufficient to make a hard copy. Affected University personnel are encouraged to contact Information Technology Services with any questions concerning suggested methods for preserving electronic records.
    2. Preserve any new electronic information that is generated after receipt of the legal hold notice that is relevant to the subject of the notice. This should be done by creating separate mailboxes and files and segregating all future electronically stored information in these separate mailboxes and files.
    3. Preserve hard copies of documents under their control. Steps should be taken to identify all relevant paper files and to ensure the retention of such files. Affected University personnel may make hard copies of electronically stored information; however, as outlined in item i.) above, the information must be preserved in its original electronic form.
  4. University personnel subject to a legal hold must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with a legal hold without undue delay by e-mail and memorandum to the Office of the University Counsel. Any University personnel subject to a legal hold should consult Information Technology Services for assistance in securing and preserving their records.
  5. The Office of the University Counsel will notify Information Technology Services of a legal hold and provide the following information including, but not limited to:
    • Official notification of the legal hold;
    • Identify all affected University personnel whose electronic accounts must be preserved, including user names, if known;
    • Identify each person's status as faculty, staff, student, or retired, if known;
    • Provide department affiliation for each person, if known.
  6. Information Technology Services must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with the legal hold without undue delay by e-mail and memorandum to the Office of the University Counsel.
  7. If affected University personnel separate from employment during the course of a legal hold, Department heads or Directors must take possession of any and all evidence under the control of the separated personnel and notify the Office of the University Counsel.
  8. Once notice of a legal hold has been issued, the Office of the University Counsel will continue to monitor compliance with this policy and any notice.

Violations

Violations of this policy and procedures are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal

Release of a Legal Hold

The Office of the University Counsel will determine and communicate to affected University personnel when a legal hold may be lifted and evidence no longer preserved.

Effective Date

This policy and procedures is effective 1 May 2007.

Contact

Comments or questions? Email the Policy Administrator.