The term litigation hold refers to an organization’s responsibility to preserve potentially relevant information when they are a party to a dispute, already named in a litigation, or have the reasonable expectation of being involved in litigation. Several years ago, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) expanded the scope of what constitutes relevant information to include electronically stored information (ESI) such as email, documents, etc.

To help customers comply with their litigation hold responsibilities, many software vendors have begun adding features to their products. In the case of Microsoft’s Exchange Server email platform, litigation hold features began to appear in the product with the release of Exchange 2010. That feature set evolved in both Exchange 2013 and 2016 and today offers a fairly comprehensive way to ensure that mailbox content cannot be deleted (either inadvertently or on-purpose) when a hold is in effect. Exchange administrators may choose to implement either a litigation hold (which prevents all content items from being deleted) or an in-place hold which prevents select items (for example, items containing specific key words or date ranges) from being deleted.  Along with these email holds, Exchange can also block the deletion of Skype for Business content (such as online meeting recordings or chats) or prevent mailbox owners from forwarding communications to a personal email system. These features go a long way towards keeping an organization compliant with regard to their litigation hold responsibilities but there are still some missing pieces.

Another important aspect to consider when establishing a litigation hold process is the requirement to notify custodians (i.e. content owners) that they have been named as part of a hold action. A robust hold notification procedure is a key element of the overall process since custodians may have relevant information stored outside of their mailbox in paper files, thumb drives, DVD or CD discs, etc. Here are a few important features to look for as part of your hold notification process:

  • Electronic custodian notification including a way for custodians to acknowledge that they have received, and will comply with, the requirements of the litigation hold
  • A hold questionnaire or other inventory mechanism, which allows custodians to identify all of the repositories where they may be storing relevant information
  • A reminder process, which will periodically advise the custodian that they remain part of an ongoing hold and continue to have preservation responsibilities

As we architected the legal hold notification feature in Sherpa’s Altitude IG eDiscovery module, we made provisions for all of these capabilities.  Let us show you how Altitude can streamline your eDiscovery process and work alongside Microsoft Exchange to provide a comprehensive litigation hold solution. Request a 30-minute demo to see for yourself!


Free content at your fingertips! Download, “The Essential Guide to Understanding & Executing Legal Holds.”


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