The guidelines about how to deal with inadvertent disclosures during a court case are changing, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
Whether it’s an email accidentally sent to you by the opposing legal team, or a series of internal memos with vital information on the case, you are no longer legally obligated to send it back to the other side.
From 1997 onward, the protocol for inadvertent disclosures was to send the information back to the sender, or to follow the sender’s directions about how to handle the mistake. You were not allowed to use the information to help your client.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Virginia altered the rules, now dictating that the recipient must either delete or destroy the information or seal it up so the court can review it; the recipient is no longer obligated to send it back to the opposing legal team, even if they request it.
The new protocol is dictated by LEO 1871, stating that an attorney who receives confidential information by mistake “(1) may review the information if necessary to determine his obligations under the discovery rule; (2) must notify the party producing the documents that the lawyer is in possession of them; (3) is not ethically obligated to return the information to opposing counsel; and (4) may sequester the material pending a judicial determination of whether and to what extent the receiving lawyer may use the information.”
We will keep you updated as this story unfolds.
A representative of Parrish Law Firm, PLLC researched and wrote this article with Mr. Parrish’s consent. If you have any questions regarding the legal implications of what you have just read, please send us your question by clicking here so we can have our attorney review it.