DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008 - (Page 30)

S arChiviNg & iMagiNg By DaviD O. STEphENS Putting on a global Face As the growth of inforMAtion explodes, MAnAging internAtionAl records retention progrAMs in MultinAtionAl coMpAnies hAs never been More iMportAnt ultinational companies are today confronted with explosive growth in the quantities of information they are creating and retaining. This growth is particularly true for information in digital form, which, according to a March 2008 IDC report, “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe,” has a compound annual growth rate of almost 60%. Moreover, the quantity of paper records continues to grow in most of today’s enterprises, even as a higher percentage of the total information resources of the enterprise exist as digital records. Unless a company’s overseas business units have a well-developed and aggressively implemented records retention program, they cannot control the growth of their records and ensure compliance with records retention laws and regulations, nor can they reduce the legal liabilities that can sometimes be associated with document retention and disposal. M In the event of a lawsuit, records maintained in overseas jurisdictions are discoverable in the same manner as those stored in the United States, and failure to produce them may subject multinational companies to sanctions. In short, the reduction of the risks associated with the discovery of documentary evidence in liability lawsuits remains, arguably, the most compelling reason that multinational businesses are motivated to implement international records retention programs. For business uniTs of multinational corporations located outside the US, adherence to the laws of the country of domicile is usually required — including records retention laws. However, the main difference is the fact that the records retention regulatory climate is such that compliance is often somewhat simpler than it is in the US. Most countries have enacted only a few laws relative to records retention, in sharp contrast to the situation in the US, which has promulgated literally thousands of records retention statutes and regulations, thereby making compliance a difficult task. The following is a list of a few areas of record keeping in which many countries have enacted laws prescribing retention: 3 Accounting and tax records: Virtually every government throughout the world requires businesses to maintain sufficient documentation to show that all taxes owed have, in fact, been paid. The tax codes of most countries contain provisions requiring that businesses retain financial and accounting records and other tax documentation for specified periods of time (generally five to 10 years) or for as long as they are needed This issue is somewhaT less onerous in other countries than in the US, but it is still highly relevant to efforts to globalize records retention programs. The United States is a litigation-intensive society, one in which lawsuits are often the means of resolving business disputes, but other countries are by no means immune from these types of legal problems. Companies that manufacture products that may be harmful to consumers or the environment are particularly vulnerable to liability lawsuits, but other types of businesses have significant exposure as well. Because these lawsuits are often decided on the basis of documentary evidence, multinational businesses have strong incentives to be very careful about what documents they retain and for how long. 30 DOCUMENT dec.08

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008

DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008
Ad Index
Editor’s View
BPM: Improving the Way You Process
Research Desk
The Compliance Shadow
Catching Web Fever
Charting a New Course
Reading the New Signal of Data
The Customer Finish
The Converging Money Trail
Fight Disaster
Putting on a Global Face
New Products

DOCUMENT Magazine - December 2008