Required-Records Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Required records doctrine refers to a legal principle that privilege against self-incrimination does not apply to business records that are customarily kept in accordance with government regulation and that involve public aspects.

The principle applies not only to public documents in public offices, but also to records required by law to be kept in order that there may be suitable information of transactions which are the appropriate subjects of governmental regulation and the enforcement of restrictions validly established. There the privilege, which exists as to private papers, cannot be maintained.[Shapiro v. United States, 335 U.S. 1 (U.S. 1948)]

There are three premises underlying the required records doctrine: first, the purposes of the United States' inquiry must be essentially regulatory; second, information is to be obtained by requiring the preservation of records of a kind which the regulated party has customarily kept; and third, the records themselves must have assumed "public aspects" which render them at least analogous to public documents. [In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum, 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 728 (6th Cir. Tenn. Jan. 13, 1997)]