Organisations keep records of their past activities – and their consequences – for a number of reasons including the legal requirement to retain certain records to comply with company law, for example. But good record-keeping also allows organisations to plan well for the future and demonstrate their accountability to staff, members, other stakeholders, and the wider public.
Other records which no longer have a corporate value of this sort may still be useful to the organisation, from helping build a corporate identity to providing advertising or publicity material. They may also have a secondary purpose as archival resources. If they are not kept, researchers of the future will find gaps in the evidence they need to explore and understand the past.
So do I have to keep everything?
Definitely not! Generally the proportion of records kept (whether digital or paper) will decrease as the length of time they are kept increases. Keeping records unnecessarily can be expensive. It also makes it more difficult to find the information you actually need and to keep important, sensitive information secure.
This means it is essential to manage your records well. You should aim to have approved processes in place that ensure your organisation is aware what needs to be kept for now, what is useful for the medium term and what will have long-term value.
Information about how long to keep your legal documents can be found on the webpages of your government, trade union, or you can contact your accountant.