The ABCs and facts around Business Continuity
X – is for compliance and it’s complicated!
There are various legislative regimes in Australia which prescribe specific timeframes for document and record retention and destruction. Non-compliance with such requirements can result in economic loss, such as losing coverage of insurance, or even strict criminal liability for individuals and organisations – the most common example being for a company, its directors and officers.
Currently, there are around 80 Acts at both the State and Federal level which regulate document and record retention and destruction. The various regimes are not codified in any way, some are industry specific and some are catch-all legislation. Where there is an applicable regime, care should be taken to ensure that requirements in relation to the form, manner, location and length of time that documents must be kept are complied with.
Where there is no clear legislative guidance as to the applicable retention period, the documents must be kept for a reasonable time, which is usually seven years.
Storing documents and records electronically
Special regard should be given to documents and records stored in electronic form. Publications such as AS 4390 Australian Standards for Records Management and Australian Standard (AS ISO15489) provide useful guidance for keeping electronic records. There are also individual regimes governing electronic transactions. The applicable Commonwealth and State Evidence Acts and Electronic Transactions Acts set out the various requirements.
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