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Records Management and The Law

The retention of unnecessary records consumes staff time, space and equipment. It also incurs liabilities in terms of the need to service information requests made under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Practices 2004.

The Data Protection Act requires records containing personal data to be kept for no longer than necessary; the University can be sued for retaining unnecessary information if this causes damage to someone. It may be a personal criminal offence to destroy information requested under either of these Acts; the retention and disposal schedule will help with accountability under this legislation by enabling the University to demonstrate that any disposals have been undertaken in line with proper procedures and requirements. Disposals undertaken without a retention and disposal schedule will be open to accusations of improper practice.

The Code of Practice issued by the Information Commissioner under s 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 specifically requires organizations subject to this legislation to have retention schedules for all their records. Although compliance with the Code is not mandatory, it is seen as indicative of whether or not an organization has complied with the legislation.