Fire damage: first thing to do is notify your insurers

Q. We understand that the storage facility which we use to store archived client files and documents has been badly damaged by a fire, although we have not yet had formal notification of that and do not know whether all the documents have been destroyed . What steps do we need to take from a conduct point of view?

A. The first thing you should do is notify your insurers. Once you know for certain whether some or all of the files and documents you were holding have been destroyed, you will need to:

  • Notify all of the clients for whom you were holding original documents such as wills or deeds or other items;
  • Notify those organisations who have access to your files for audit purposes (eg, HM Revenue & Customs);
  • Ensure that you continue to retain any electronic information you have relating to the matters of former clients, which would enable you to reconstruct some or all of those files if requested to do so;
  • Notify the SRA; and
  • Seek further advice from your insurers.

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