Tuesday, June 18, 2013

R3 Guidance on the Capture, Storage, Maintenance and Destruction of Records

R3 have recently issued this paper, which provides some useful guidance on issues that may arise in the capture, storing, maintenance and destruction of case records and also the records of the companies and individuals over which you have been appointed. I just want to highlight one point from it.

The guidance indicates that you need a policy regarding emails and sets out some issues to consider. In particular you need to consider how emails are filed as a permanent record for the case. For practices with electronic document management systems they can save emails direct to the relevant section of the case folder, but what if your practice has paper files? You could print out each email for the case file but that is not very efficient or green. Another option would be to create a separate folder for each case on your server, or in the Cloud, and save them to that, ideally having sub-folders that mirror your paper case files. Some of our clients follow the policy we started suggesting around 5 years ago and they keep copy emails in separate case folders and also print out the last email in any string for the file. This reduces the amount of printing while providing both a hard copy of the entire conversation for the file and a soft copy as back-up. You need a policy that works for your particular practice.

Linked to this, whilst practices will usually have a policy as regards who can send and sign outgoing post, control of outgoing emails is often overlooked. Since so much more business is being done by email you also need to ensure that your practice has a suitable policy for emails sent to external recipients. For example, you could get staff to send a draft of the proposed email to the IP or a manager for authorisation before it is sent. Another approach would be to have a defined policy as to what each member of staff’s level of authority is for external emails, although even then the email should be copied to the IP or manager depending on practice policy, as part of your practice controls. Again, it is a matter of having something that works for your particular practice.