Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin October 2015 Contents 29
• the six year limitation period running from the date on which
the cause of action first accrues, during which claims for breach of
contract or negligence (as well as other torts) may be commenced
against a person or company;
• the three year limitation period running from the date on which
the cause of action first accrues, during which claims for injury
may be commenced against a person or company; and
• the period of time a business is obliged to hold onto its records
of employees after termination (seven years).
EXCEPTIONS TO THE SEVEN YEAR PRINCIPLE
That being said, it is important to note that there are a number
of circumstances where it is not only wise, but it may also be
required, for one reason or another, to keep documents longer
than seven years.
For instance, deeds should be kept indefinitely (and for at least
12 years from the date on which they were executed). Causes
of action arising from a deed have a 12 year limitation period.
Documents which relate to issues contained in a deed should also
be kept for at least 12 years.
A further example is documents relating to intellectual property
rights, such as patents, trademarks and copyright. These should be
kept indefinitely. Documents of this nature should be retained for
the entire time that the rights in the intellectual property exist. This
can range from 10 years to a lifetime plus 70 years, depending on
the intellectual property and the nature of the right.
In addition, if litigation has been commenced, or if there is a
threat of litigation, documents relevant to the litigation should be
retained for at least the period of the litigation. If you don't, you
can commit an offence (in Victoria under the Crimes (Document
Destruction) Act 2006) and may be prejudiced in defending any
claim brought against you in any state of Australia. Furthermore,
providers of a 'health service' may be required to retain 'health
information' relating to individuals for varying lengths of time
depending upon how old the individual was when the information
was collected (in NSW this could be up to 25 years for a minor,
see s25 of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002).
As mentioned the ADA's Policy 5.17 also refers.
GOOD RISK MANAGEMENT AND DOCUMENT STORAGE
While it is all well and good to say that documents must be
retained for seven years, 12 years or indefinitely, there are a
number of issues to consider when determining where and how
documents should be retained.
• The cost of retaining documents. Physical documents take up a
great deal of space. Depending on the size of your business, the
cost of retaining physical documents either on site or off site can
be significant. One alternative is to convert hard copy documents
into soft copy documents which can be stored on mass storage
devices or on offsite servers (take care as you may be required to
retain original documents in certain cases).
• The security of your documents from fire or theft. Certain
documents such as property deeds or share certificates should be
kept in a safe and secure location. Property deeds in particular
should be treated with utmost care, as they are equivalent to a
blank cheque over the property concerned.
• Any confidentiality and privacy requirements in the retained
documents. If these obligations exist, they should be factored
into any decision concerning the storage of documents, including
considerations such as the storage location, potential access to
the documents and the agreement with any third party storage
Dental Relocation and Infrastructure Support Scheme is funded by the
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Government grants are available for registered general
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Look what's on offer:
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There are consequences for failing to comply properly with
document retention requirements and businesses face a number
of legal and commercial questions which must be properly
considered before deciding on a course of action.
A careful analysis of all the relevant factors is key not only to
complying with your obligations, but also administering document
retention as cost effectively as any other aspect of your business.
Colin Biggers & Paisley
For further information please contact Aaron Bolton, Solicitor, Colin Biggers
& Paisley Pty Ltd, Level 42, 2 Park Street Sydney NSW 2000. Website:
www.cbp.com.au; phone: 02 8281 4620; or email: email@example.com
Readers should not act only on the basis of material obtained in this article
because the contents are of a general nature and therefore do not take
into account each person's individual circumstances and may be liable to
misinterpretation. Do not act upon any of the information contained within
this article without first obtaining specific advice from a legal advisor.
Colin Biggers & Paisley assumes no obligation to update this publication
after it has been issued. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure
accuracy, information contained may not be complete, may have changed
or may not be relevant to, or appropriate for your circumstances.
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