The Perils of Product Documentation in the Digital World

Nov 29, 2017

Think before emailing.

By now everyone in the developed world should realize that email is not private. It can be accessed with increasing ease by the tech savvy and broadcast on the internet.

More to the point, company email is not privileged information and is discoverable evidence during litigation.

Email has become an indispensable part of communication in the construction industry. Construction documents are continually exchanged and discussed by both field personnel and office staff.

All of this correspondence, no matter how routine, must be produced upon demand by opposing counsel.

An article in BEST PRACTICES CONSTRUCTION LAW by Matthew DeVries urges construction companies to “have a written document management policy in place … [because] believe it or not, there are always a wealth of emails and other documents produced in litigation that help ‘make the case’ for the other side.”

The policy should explain the role of both “critical project” documents and “non-critical documents, such as personal emails …”

The policy must include “boundaries and guidelines for the following:

Personal use of email

Use of profanity

Risks of informal communication

A document retention policy”

Establishing a document management policy is not enough, by itself, to protect  your company. All employees, from the President to newly hired laborers, should daily basis.

In World War II there was an adage—“Loose lips sink ships.” In today’s business world— “Careless emails doom lawsuits.”


Project Documentation: The Bad Little Email That Got Produced, Matthew DeVries, BEST PRACTICES CONSTRUCTION LAW, Aug. 11, 2017.