Records Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Records, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Records?

(n) Records is defined as the written documents containing information about an event, action, observation, assessment or other representation maintained in an orderly method.

History and Meaning of Records

Records are a critical element of an organization's information management cycle. They refer to information created or received by an organization, institution, or individual that is preserved for its inherent value or as evidence of an activity. The concept of records dates back to ancient civilizations, where kings and queens kept records of trade, taxes, and cultural practices. In the Middle Ages, religious institutions kept records of births, deaths, and marriages. The advent of the printing press and papermaking in the 15th century saw records become more widespread and accessible.

Today, records management is closely tied to the legal and regulatory requirements that govern the preservation and disposal of records. Organizations are required to maintain records for periods required by law and to ensure that records are accurate, accessible, and auditable. This requirement has led to the development of records management policies, procedures, and technologies to ensure records are adequately managed throughout their lifecycle.

Examples of Records

  1. Medical records, which contain information about a patient's health history, diagnosis, and treatment.
  2. Financial records, which include bank statements, ledgers, and invoices.
  3. Government records, such as birth certificates, land titles, and court records.
  4. Academic records, which include transcripts, diplomas, and academic awards.
  5. Employment records, such as job applications, contracts, and performance evaluations.

Legal Terms Similar to Records

  1. Document - A written or printed record that provides evidence.
  2. Archive - Records containing information that is no longer in active use but preserved for historical, legal, or administrative reasons.
  3. Information governance - The policies, procedures, and technologies implemented to manage information as a critical business asset.