In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of corporate record keeping from a legal perspective and provided tips to help you maintain accurate and reliable records. In this follow-up, we’ll delve into the types of records that companies should keep across four key categories: Governance, Legal, Risk, and Compliance. Proper record keeping is a strategic advantage that should not be underestimated. By maintaining these records effectively, you can not only meet legal requirements but also enhance your business’s overall operational efficiency by aiding informed decision-making, mitigating risks and building a reputation of trust and reliability in the business world.
1. Governance Records
Governance records are essential for demonstrating the legal and ethical foundation upon which your business operates. These documents provide a record of the decisions, policies and activities that guide your organisation. Key governance records include:
a. Constitution and Shareholders Agreement: your company’s Constitution, a key document which sets out rules for governing your company. Your company may also have a Shareholders Agreement with further requirements.
a. Meeting minutes and resolutions: Minutes of board meetings, shareholder meetings and other key organisational meetings and, in particular, records of decisions made – these resolutions can involve changes in corporate policy, approval of significant transactions or the appointment of officers.
c. Policies: Policies guide employee conduct. Policies should be readily accessible and reviewed regularly but make sure to keep a record of previous versions – these may be relevant to future claims or other legal proceedings.
2. Legal Records
Legal records document your business’s legal history and legal obligations, and also may protect your business in case of disputes. Key legal records include:
a. Contracts: All contracts your business enters into including client agreements, vendor contracts, employment contracts and lease agreements. These documents help clarify rights and responsibilities and can be essential in resolving disputes.
b. Intellectual Property Records: If your business holds patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets, records of these key assets, including registration certificates and related agreements.
c. Licenses and Permits: All licenses and permits your business holds. Good record keeping will help you make sure these assets are renewed on time and otherwise kept up date to avoid legal issues arising.
d. Litigation Records: Documents recording any legal disputes, lawsuits or claims involving your business. This includes court filings, correspondence with legal counsel and outcomes of legal proceedings.
3. Risk Records
Maintaining records related to risk and insurance is crucial for protecting your business and ensuring financial stability. Key risk and insurance records include:
a. Insurance Policies: Detailed records of all insurance policies, including coverage details, premiums, and contact information for your insurance providers. Regularly review and update these policies to ensure they adequately cover your business’s needs.
b. Claims Records: Details of any insurance claims your business has made, including the nature of the claim, dates, correspondence with insurers and settlement details.
c. Safety and Incident Reports: Records of workplace accidents, incidents, near misses and safety procedures. These records can be crucial in legal matters and for improving safety protocols.
d. Risk Assessments and Mitigation Plans: Risk assessments, mitigation plans and disaster recovery plans. These documents are essential for preventing and responding to potential crises.
4. Compliance Records
Compliance records are a testament to your commitment to adhering to industry regulations and standards. By maintaining these records, you demonstrate your business’s dedication to operating ethically and within the bounds of the law. Key compliance records include:
a. Regulatory Filings: Records of all filings with government agencies, including tax returns, financial statements and reports required by regulatory authorities.
b. Employee Records: Maintain personnel records, including employment contracts, performance evaluations and payroll.
c. Environment Compliance: Depending on your business, you may be capturing records of compliance with environmental regulations, relevant permits and emissions data.
d. Data Protection: Records of data protection activities, including privacy policies, consent forms and cybersecurity measures.
As the name suggests, this isn’t advice, it’s just a story. If you’re reviewing your company’s record keeping practices to drive long-term success or perhaps with a view to sell, please get in touch to discuss how we may be able to assist you.