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What is litigation hold

Litigation Hold, also known as preservation orders or hold orders, is a requirement of a company to preserve all the data they have should there be any legal action that includes the company. The stipulation requires that data is available during the discovery process prior to litigation.]

The aim of a litigation hold is to prevent data from being spoiled, which includes the destruction, alteration or mutilation of evidence. It’s also becoming a key part of email compliance laws across the world. With regulations such as GDPR taking companies to task for not preserving data sufficiently enough or being unable to provide data when requested, the use of  litigation holds are now very important for businesses.

With more and more data now passing from being on paper-based documents to electronically stored information (ESI), a lot of data – such as business contracts and invoices – can now be found within emails. Steps must be taken to preserve important information in case of a request. Fortunately, the biggest email provider in the world has tools available for businesses to keep copies of emails held.

Office 365 and Legal Hold

Microsoft created Legal Hold so that businesses can prove that emails returned from the archive are identical to their original content. From the moment legal hold is started, authenticity is assured at the date and time the email was received or created. If an email is deleted from an inbox, it transfers to the ‘Recoverable Emails Folder’. There are two types of legal hold available within Office 365: In-place hold and litigation hold.

In-Place Hold

In-place hold preserves only items set by a search criteria in the In-Place eDiscovery tool set by the admin. If users delete emails based on set criteria, the email will only last for 14 days in the recoverable items folder.

Litigation Hold in Office 365

With litigation hold enabled by admins, all mailbox items are placed on hold. It’s up to the admin to determine how long a Litigation Hold is put in place on inboxes. From the moment it‘s turned off, a business cannot prove the email has been kept. Disabling it also purges all previous emails kept by the hold.

For a business to keep all their emails, litigation hold must be enabled permanently as an indefinite hold for every inbox in the entire company.

Is Litigation Hold Sufficient?

Despite emails being placed in a legal or litigation hold, this doesn’t stop them from being edited or deleted. Instead, a copy of the changed email is moved to the ‘recoverable items folder’. That folder contains a copy of all deleted emails and edited emails thus acting as an archive for the business. Once changes are made, a chain of emails is made which users can access via the Compliance Centre while Legal Hold is place.

Use of a litigation hold is also insufficient because once the legal hold is removed for all inboxes, any deleted email older than the retention period will be purged from mailboxes. The only copy that remains will be its most recent version – the version that has been edited. To be email compliant, you will need proof that email hasn’t been changed and a legal hold cannot provide that.

The only way a business can ensure all emails are kept is by keeping the litigation hold on permanently. This can lead to your inboxes being clogged up and eventually running out of space over time even if every user has a large limit of 50 GB of storage space on Office 365. This means you require archive that stores emails elsewhere.

The only way to hold emails securely with full proof of editing even when deleted is to use a dedicated archiving software to back up all data.

Cryoserver and Office 365

With Cryoserver, businesses can use the email archiving software to secure email data in the cloud. With a cloud based solution storing emails in a remote location, inboxes don’t have to be concerned with the restraints of being put under a litigation hold and can save space instead.

Cryoserver also ensure your business complies with GDPR and other regulations across the world. Users can access archived email through the software and the fast speeds of search avoid admins having to have an In-Place Hold in place for specific queries. You choose what you search and Cryoserver will find every email related to that search in seconds. Contact us today to enhance Office 365 in your business and leave litigation hold behind.