Litigation between contractors in the construction industry can involve the discovery of many and varied kinds of information. In the discovery phase, attorneys will seek to acquire documents from the other party that is important to the case. However, sometimes litigated parties destroy crucial records and information. This possibility is why New Jersey attorneys may ask a judge for a litigation hold.
According to Construction Today, if a dispute between parties is likely to occur and the parties involved have a reasonable chance of knowing legal action may take place, both parties are usually mandated to keep all documents that pertain to the dispute. This generally means that anything from emails to digital files to paper records must be preserved and cannot be shredded, defaced, or disposed of.
To help ensure that a party to the suit does not destroy information, an attorney may ask a court to put in place a litigation hold. This is a legal procedure that forbids the other party from destroying records relevant to the case. If the other party goes ahead and destroys documents, a court may sanction the other party, including imposing fines or striking down defenses and claims made by the offending party.
Because construction litigation can involve a large number of documents, a contractor that is being litigated may feel tempted to delete some crucial records thinking they will not be caught. However, in many instances an offending party is found out because other people still possess copies of the deleted records. Even if information is wiped from a hard drive, forensics can usually confirm that the drive was in fact wiped, when it was wiped, and the application used to do it.
The discovery phase of construction litigation can greatly differ from case to case. For this reason, this article should not be interpreted as legal advice, only as general information.