My name is Stephanie, and I’m an addict.

It has been 30 seconds since I last checked my phone and already my hand is itching to pick it up and check my messages, send an email, post a blog on LinkedIn, read back through a few WhatsApp messages to make sure I haven’t missed anything and take a screen shot of the last call I made as a reminder of who I spoke to, when and how long we were talking, so I can remember to do time recording later.

In short, my phone has become the most important possession in the world (after my family – well, ok, certain members of my family). In fact, I’m typing this from Stockholm Airport and at the start of the trip I commented that I could have walked out of the house with nothing except my phone and been absolutely fine. Everything I need (information, banking, credit cards, maps, translations, bookings, work) is on it.

I am not, for one moment, complaining about this. Whilst I do think it is a bit of a worry that we are all so dependent on these small devices and our world comes crashing down around us when we lose them or they are broken or out of charge, there are worse things to be reliant on.

However, I do think that we take them far too much for granted, and do not see the potential risks, not in terms of how we cope without them, but what the implications are if they are no longer available to us.

I’ve talked before about the importance of making sure you have a company policy in place for when staff are using their own phones for company work. You need to make sure, for example, that they have an obligation to hand over certain information when they leave and delete things like contact details, particularly if you want to protect your business going forward.  It could be harder, for example, to complain that an employee had breached a restrictive covenant preventing them from contacting former clients if you hadn’t done anything to ensure that they had deleted the client’s details.

However, what about your own phone. If you communicate with clients by text and there is a dispute, you could end up having to hand your phone over to someone else for them to search through it and find everything that is relevant. Your solicitor may have to certify to the court that your disclosure obligations have been complied with which means they may need to have the phone to do the searching. Not only is there the potential (although temporary) disruption to your life by being without your best friend, but what else will be found. Even if it’s just you saying something inappropriate about a client (or work colleague, or your solicitor!!!!) I doubt there is anyone who would say they have absolutely nothing to worry about.

That could be embarrassing!

Or what about when you are the one that is leaving. What are your obligations in terms of letting people have access to your phone. What if you are obliged to sign a settlement agreement, and it provides that you have to agree to ongoing support of the company if any dispute should arise in relation to anything you have worked on. Do you have to agree that they could still have access to your phone years after you’ve left, and what if you no longer have that phone.

Which all means that our little best friend could easily become our biggest worst nightmare.

Unless, of course, you prepare for such things.

I’ve already mentioned the benefits of a good well worded handbook, and perhaps having read the rest of my blog you can see just how important it could be, but even if you have one, does it cover all of the issues that I’ve mentioned and all the other issues that I could bore you to tears with if only I had time to get off my phone. And what about your own personal situation.

So, if you don’t have a handbook that deals with the data on someone’s phone (whether it’s yours or theirs) then you should have one and if you do have a policy, you should make sure it’s fit for purpose. Either way, if you’d like a free consultation on what should be in it, you should message me and I’m sure to respond almost instantly because my phone is always to hand!

Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. We do so much more than just phoning it in.