Spoliation

Definition(s)

  • Spoliation is the destruction or alteration of evidence during on-going litigation or during an investigation or when either might occur sometime in the future. Failure to preserve data that may become evidence is also spoliation.
  • Generally, the intentional or negligent destruction or alteration of evidence when there is current litigation or an investigation or there is reasonable anticipation that either may occur in the near future. Some jurisdictions also define it as a failure to preserve information that may become evidence.
  • The intentional alteration or destruction of a relevant document or documents.
  • The original legal definition was the destruction of a thing by the act of a stranger; as in the erasure or alteration of a writing by the act of a stranger. In e¬discovery cases the focus has been on the intentional nature of the act, which can include deletion, partial destruction or alteration, generally by a party to the action or someone under their control.
  • Spoliation is the destruction of records which may be relevant to ongoing or anticipated litigation, government investigation or audit. Courts differ in their interpretation of the level of intent required before sanctions may be warranted.
  • The intentional, negligent, or reckless, loss, destruction, alteration or obstruction of relevant evidence.

Notes

  1. Fenwick & West LLP, FWPS eDiscovery Terminology (11/6/2005). Citing Norcross Group FAQ’s, http://norcrossgroup.com/faq.html#14.
  2. RenewData, Glossary (10/5/2005).
  3. Vinson & Elkins LLP Practice Support, EDD Glossary.
  4. Ibis Consulting, Glossary.
  5. Legal Electronic Document Institute, Basic Principles of Automated Litigation Support (2005).
  6. Kroll Ontrack, Glossary of Termshttp://www.krollontrack.com/glossaryterms
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