Published on July 5, 2018
Know how long you can keep to files be a little tricky.
On the one hand, you do not want to keep everything forever, on the other hand, certain files must be kept for a minimum of time. either for security reasons or in some cases, as required by law. This applies in particular to medical and legal documents.
How long should you keep files? What is the best way to check files to destroy, and what internal devices are required to safely dump files?
How long should you keep files?
Your company should already have a retention and destruction policy. If not, you should be implemented as soon as possible. Here are some guidelines. Note that the Law Society of British Colombia has no set guidelines. To help you decide on your own retention policy, consider the following:
In many situations, the recommended minimum retention period is six years, but there will be times when documents should be kept longer, including permanently. For example, a 10-year commercial mortgage is advised against destroying files after 6 years, as problems can occur over a four-year period.
For some Retention Policy click HERE.
Documents from closed client files should be retained as it is possible to challenge lawyers. The limitation period can range from 2 years for negligence to no limitation for misconduct or criminal behavior.
The Income Tax Act requires that records and accounts be kept for a period of 6 years. However, the law provides that records can be stored electronically if they are "electronically readable".
Checking Destroyed Files
There may be cases where there are files that are safe to destroy that may be worth storing. For example, there may be files that help maintain efficient practice. Important precedents and legal documents may be contained in closed files and may prove valuable in the future. These documents may be retained at your discretion, with the customer information being deleted or hidden for security.
If files are considered too destructive, the question remains how to handle them. Some of the potential issues that may arise at this time are potential security vulnerabilities if not properly destroyed, the use of manpower to perform the job, and the potential risk of injury to workers using the shredders. In most cases, it is more logical and more economical to use a file destruction service that can either destroy the documents locally or safely transport them to destroy them in an industrial shredder.
Files can also be destroyed if stored electronically.
Electronic storage of documents is much more economical than physical management. However, you must ensure that all relevant paperwork is in place. Documents have been scanned and stored correctly before you close the file, and like paper files, these documents must be managed to ensure customer confidentiality.
Electronically stored documents must remain accessible, as in physical files.
Keep a log of destroyed files with the name and address of the client, the file number, and a letter. Counting all relevant information is a good idea and can be easily processed electronically.
Disposal of your files does not have to be difficult, as long as you have a clear storage and destruction policy. When it's time to destroy your documents, it's a logical decision to use a trusted annihilation service like BC Records. BC Records provides secure and cost-effective destruction of your confidential documents, whether on-site or after pick-up.