Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

LEGAL RECORDS AT RISK WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO RESCUE PRIVATE SECTOR LEGAL RECORDS?

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2016), 51, (132-3), 76–81.

Abstract

Private sector legal records are at risk of becoming lost or inaccessible through globalization, digital obsolescence, physical neglect, lack of interest on the part of information owners or reduced archive resources to preserve and provide access to the records. All records in the private sector face similar challenges, but modern legal records (early twentieth century to the present day) are particularly vulnerable due to recent developments which are transforming the nature, organisation, regulation and economics of legal services. These changes are outstripping the capacity of the traditional providers of legal research facilities to preserve and make available relevant records. Unless systematic efforts are made towards collecting private sector legal records, we are in danger of losing a significant proportion of our legal heritage. Research using modern legal records will continue to be weighted towards the study of government policy, legislation and the courts, producing a distorted historical picture of the UK’s legal framework.

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Author details

Cowling, Clare