Litigation hold (also known as "preservation orders" or "hold orders") is a stipulation requiring a company to preserve all data that may relate to a legal action involving the company. This requirement ensures that the data in question will be available for the discovery process prior to litigation.
A company must preserve records when it learns of pending or imminent litigation, or when litigation is reasonably anticipated. Litigation hold prevents spoliation (destruction, alteration, or mutilation of evidence) which can have a catastrophic impact on the defense. An attorney may issue a litigation hold letter or a company may issue a hold order internally. The order applies not only to paper-based documents but also to electronically-stored information (ESI)
Implementing a litigation hold process can be challenging for storage administrators. All companies must establish a sound retention policy and apply that policy to their storage systems. Storage systems with a litigation hold feature can then override the existing retention and deletion rules that have been established, preventing alteration or destruction of the data until the legal action has been resolved.