Even after legal charges have been filed and a court case is underway, if documents concerning the lawsuit go missing, the judge can declare a mistrial because of a lack of evidence. Many authorities now combat that possibility by adopting an electronic information management policy, meaning that as various files and pieces of evidence come in, their relevant data is recorded and stored on computer databases.
However, if such technology is not used, the courts run the risk of having to let potential criminals go free.
According to Image and Data Manager, authorities at the WA Department of Commerce in Australia are now giving up the search for missing documents that may have proven corruption was a factor at the Australian Workers Union in 1992.
The source said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard allegedly benefited from a slush fund she set up when working for a law firm that handled union cases. However, all correspondence regarding the supposed account has been destroyed, the news source claims, and authorities no longer have the capital, time or effort needed to continue the search. As such, Gillard may be exonerated.
While it is unknown if the documents were stored on paper or computer, going forward, law firms, unions and other institutions may want to ensure workers know best practices and are compliant with digitizing files.