Endangered large

Documents, correspondence and other records created in the course of contractual dealings between individuals and agencies, especially where the subjects are of long duration and may be subject to legal scrutiny at undefined points in the distant future.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

No change No Change

Previous classification: Endangered


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

Significance of Loss

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

Effort to Preserve

It would require a small effort to preserve materials in this group, with the deployment of proven tools or techniques.


Contracts, receipts, correspondence, license agreements, building consent, warranties, and any other document or record that represents a legally binding transaction or permission. Such records may be useful in the avoidance or resolution of disputes whether in court or prior to proceedings. Includes Online Terms and Conditions for e-commerce or end-user agreements for services.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Loss of context; loss of authenticity or integrity; external dependencies; poor storage; lack of understanding; churn of staff; poorly framed or over-zealous disposal; ill-informed records management; misplaced fears with respect to data protection, encryption.

‘Vulnerable’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Well managed data infrastructure; preservation enabled at the point of creation; carefully managed authenticity; use of persistent identifiers; finding aids; well managed records management processes; application of records management standards

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a subset of an entry introduced in 2017 for ‘Digital Legal Records and Evidence,’ which was split into four more discrete entries. There is overlap with Pension Mortgage and Insurance Records entry, but this entry addresses digital records with value over the long term that may not be immediately obvious at the point of creation.
The likelihood of liquidation, mergers or acquisitions means that these records are trending towards greater risk. There was a 2020 trend towards greater risk in light of the Covid Pandemic causing profound dislocation across the economy, placing many companies and agencies at financial risk.
The 2021 Jury, however, noted some improvements in record-keeping legislation and regulations and guidance to this area advising what needs to be kept and for how long; while there is still room for improving how legal agreements are managed through records management standards and processes, there is a growing number of agencies with experience of handling this and therefore there had not been a notable trend towards an increased risk for 2021.

Additional Comments

The work and outputs of the EDRMS Preservation Taskforce, such as the EDRMS Preservation Toolkit, may be helpful for guidance as many of these records will be held in EDRMS type systems https://www.dpconline.org/digipres/implement-digipres/edrms-preservation-toolkit.

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