Employees at Morgan Stanley may think twice before they delete their email, after a judge slapped a $1.45billion judgement on the financial giant because they just hit delete. It seems that during the course of a lawsuit by billionaire Ron Perelman against Morgan Stanley, Perelman’s attorneys demanded that Morgan Stanley produce certain relevant emails, and Morgan Stanley’s attorneys claimed that they had been deleted.
The court was not impressed, and in a move which clearly showed just how unimpressed it was, spanked Morgan Stanley with the $1.45billion judgement in Perelman’s favour.
Now this was the spank heard around the world, as companies are suddenly waking up to the realization that they have a legal duty to retain email, not just paper documents. And, indeed, this is not the first time that a delete-happy company has been so spanked. In fact, it’s probably more common than you would think, and really that’s the point.
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If you are in any way responsible for email at your company, you’d be well-advised to make sure that they have a good email retention policy in place. And that’s not all. According to the Institute for Social Internet Public Policy, companies need to make sure that they have a clear policy in place about the scope of what their employees may discuss electronically during the course of their employment, not just in email, but in Internet forums such as chat rooms, instant messengers, and Usenet. Each piece of email, every little public remark, is a potential smoking gun, just waiting to indict the company from which the message originated.
Our advice is don’t put anything in email, or a public forum, which you wouldn’t want to see in court.
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