“I have been asked to develop and deliver a training course for judges on the subject of e-disclosure. There are two broad headings – the nuts and bolts of the technology and the proactive use of the CPR to encourage parties to consider whether electronic disclosure may help to reduce the time and expense of litigation. The idea is that closer Case Management at the outset, fortified by an understanding of the available tools and methods, will cut the time and money wasted on otiose disclosure of irrelevant documents”.
This is the opening of my article called Training for Judges in e-Disclosure, first published on Computers & Law, the web site of the Society for Computers and Law.
The article recounts how I was invited to talk about e-Disclosure to the Birmingham Mercantile Court User Group a few weeks ago. His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC, a Designated Mercantile Judge assigned to the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, quickly won support both from other judges and from above to organise a more formal session, due to take place on 21 November at Pinsent Masons’ offices in Birmingham.
The Law Society has organised an event shortly afterwards to allow Judge Brown and me to speak to law firms and their clients about the benefits which will accrue to the region in commercial terms as well as in terms of the litigation process.
In parallel with this, I am talking to suppliers of litigation software and services about how they might back up the training initiative. If, as we hope, judges start to take a more proactive role in persuading parties to use technology in litigation, then there will be a need for a wide range of support services commensurate with the variety of cases. The aim is not necessarily less or more spending on such services, but better targeted spending by a wider range of litigants across more cases.
There are parallels in other jurisdictions, notably the US and Australia, and I am in touch with people there whose experience is worth knowing about.
This is not revolutionary stuff. The CPR gives scope for an approach which is at once more thorough and more discriminating about the selection of documents needed for bringing or defending claims, just as software developments are making it easier to do the same. We need to bring the two together.
All this is non-trivial in terms of the work involved. My time on the project is being kindly sponsored by FoxData whose software and services are aimed at the identification and collection stage of e-Discovery – the stage where the volumes can be tackled to greatest effect.
I am myself at the identification and collection stage in terms of distilling the subject down to the key points. Although I would happily extemporise on it tomorrow, if asked, I see it as much as an exchange of views as a didactic exercise, and I am keen to collect as much input as possible from anyone who has an interest in it – clients, lawyers, judges and suppliers.