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E-mail: Retention, disposal and dealing with misuse

The use of e-mail has become so popular that it is used widely across all types of business. All who use it applaud the speed and efficiency gained by its use and the e-mail has become an integral part of day-to-day business. However, law firms, just as any other business, are susceptible to the risks attendant upon its misuse. We need only think back to the recent case of Weil Gotshal & Manges, where it fell foul of e-mail communication in its handling of the bankruptcy of Global Crossing, to understand the potential risks. Stephen Mason, barrister and chairman of Pario Communications, examines the legal requirements and considerations that all businesses must employ if e-mail is to continue to be such a central component of everyday business.

25 July 2002

The use of e-mail has become so popular that it is used widely across all types of business. All who use it applaud the speed and efficiency gained by its use and the e-mail has become an integral part of day-to-day business. However, law firms, just as any other business, are susceptible to the risks attendant upon its misuse. We need only think back to the recent case of Weil Gotshal & Manges, where it fell foul of e-mail communication in its handling of the bankruptcy of Global Crossing, to understand the potential risks. Stephen Mason, barrister and chairman of Pario Communications, examines the legal requirements and considerations that all businesses must employ if e-mail is to continue to be such a central component of everyday business.

One well-known example of the misuse of the internal e-mail system is the case of Norwich Union Insurance Company and Western Provident Association, dating from 1997. Employees of Norwich Union spread rumours, distr...

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