spoliation of evidence

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spoliation of evidence

The destruction of evidence necessary for pending or contemplated litigation.The practice is illegal under common law and under Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regardless of the motives or intention of the party responsible for maintaining the evidence.

Example: Landlord Larry has a problem tenant who constantly complains about various unsafe conditions at a 6-year-old apartment complex, attributing them to poor design and construction. The tenant threatens to file suit if Larry does not fix all the defects and give the tenant 6 months free rent. Two days later, as she does on the same date every year, Larry's assistant destroys all noncurrent files more than 5 years old. This includes many of the original development and construction records for the complex. SOX probably does not apply because the apartment complex is not owned by a publicly traded company, but Larry is more than likely guilty of common law spoliation of evidence.

References in periodicals archive ?
Those have also suffered by the predatory fingers of petty larcenists, who have torn out plates of famous race-horses; but, on the whole, as was remarked just now, these mischievous depredations have been few in number, and the great majority of those who habitually frequent the Melbourne Public Library feel that they possess a proprietary interest in the institution, and that they are under an obligation to protect the contents from spoilation or injury accordingly.
The "2001 BNA Litigation Forum: Electronic Discovery Best Practices & Evolving Law," to be held October 15-16 in San Francisco, will address this potentially thorny issue by examining how new changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will affect electronic discovery, preserving a company's electronic data to avoid spoilation sanctions, crafting discovery motions that cover all electronic data needed for a case, and more.
I commented that we could all vouch for the apparent huge acreage here within the Greater Birmingham conurbation, which bears repeating when considering the proposed spoilation at Bromsgrove for instance, concerning which Julie Kirkbride MP has also commented at length in your columns recently.