Critically Endangered small

Data from public enquiries and reconciliation commissions which can be traumatic, politically uncomfortable and contested, typically comes in many different forms and formats.  It is not always possible to identify an archival authority to look after the resulting evidence and proceedings, and these need carefully managed to ensure their integrity and accessibility into the future. Data protection issues and cultural sensitivities only amplify the challenge to preservations.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: No Change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2018

Previously: Critically Endangered

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


The Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission to investigate human rights violations committed prior to 2012; enquiries into historical child abuse; Bloody Sunday Enquiry (Saville Inquiry); East Timor Tribunal;

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

risk of falsification; fragile or obsolete media; dependence on proprietary formats or products; lack or loss of documentation; inaccessible to web harvesting technologies; lack of version control; lack of integrity checks or integrity records; poor chain of custody;

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Strong sense of archival responsibility; carefully constructed rules around information privacy that retain robust and appropriate preservation capabilities

2019 Review

This entry was received in 2017 but has been split into a series of more discrete entries this year.  This entry represents a small group of very specific but also highly significant recommendations jury which each have their own challenges but which have sufficient similarities to be taken as a group.  The Jury noted that there is in fact considerable evidence of good practice emerging from some of the examples where clear archival responsibility has been the key to progress.

Additional Jury Comments

The submissions from which this entry is made seem like the tip of an iceberg.  Hard to see how to segment it but necessary to raise awareness.

Case files and correspondence are one thing. Retention of these should be clear, but may differ widely between jurisdictions and/or levels of government. If retention is not long term or permanent, risk of loss may not be so critical. Retention of 'unused' or 'potential' evidence is likely a different matter altogether. It may not even been considered a record, and certainly isn't a record of the court. Should it be returned to the suspect or accused? Are their rights being considered here - not just in terms of preservation, but also simply disposition? There are legal and ethical issues around this which need to be fleshed out in conjunction with assessing its preservation risk.

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