Australian in-house legal face up to the digital challenge

Deloitte's annual survey of Corporate Counsel at 200 Australian organisations has found a growing concern over the challenges of meeting regulatory compliance and regulator requests for electronic records.

Nicholas Adamo, Deloitte Forensic Partner, said 82% of respondents reported an increase in regulatory activity in the past year, with the most common form of regulatory activity reported being the service of subpoenas seeking document production.

“There has been a proliferation of the use of email and other electronic forms of communication in the past five years,” said Adamo.

“This increase has posed particular challenges for corporate counsel and the organisation to which they belong.”

“Well over half (59%) of respondents to the survey have been required to produce electronic documents for regulators in the past year, however, 47% of respondents were not confident that they could produce all relevant electronic records in response to a legal or regulatory request."

Despite the ever increasing volume of information being generated by organisations, 14% of respondents admitted that their organisation still does not have a policy regarding the management and retention of electronic records.

"While the number who have policies has grown from 53% five years ago to 86% today, the fact that 14% remain without policies should be alarming to CIOs and general counsel alike,” said Adamo.

Respondents to the survey indicated that the most significant challenge faced was the volume of electronic records. The three key risk priorities of corporate counsel are maintaining regulatory compliance, preserving legal professional privilege and handling managing and retaining electronic records;