Marcus Evans, the international conference organiser, asked me some time ago to be a speaker at their E-Discovery and Document Management Strategies Conference in London on 14 and 15 January 2008.
The request coincided with the opportunity to organise e-Disclosure training for judges on the IT implications of making Disclosure orders at Case Management Conferences in UK litigation. The conference seemed a good way of telling corporate court users about what we were doing – I go to a lot of these conferences and few of them carry the e-Disclosure story beyond the stage where documents are being analysed by the lawyers.
What happens after that, when the courts are confronted with the resulting mass of material? Judges have to decide how much of it is worth consideration, often in the face of competing views as between the parties, when they must weigh the need to see that justice is done on all the relevant evidence against the need to run the case in an efficient, timely and cost-effective way.
So I agreed to speak, and took as my subject the mutual expectations of clients, lawyers and the courts. This is not just an afterthought to the e-Discovery process – clients need to know what the courts will be looking for and to adjust their document retention and litigation readiness policies accordingly. Similarly, judges need to know what the scale of the problem is, and what is involved in sifting through masses of documents. How else can they make orders appropriate to the time and cost implications?
It seemed to me that we could get some two-way knowledge transfer by inviting a judge to speak with me at the conference – clients rarely hear the court’s viewpoint, and judges do not generally have either the budget or the time to attend top-flight two-day commercial conferences. I therefore asked His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC, Specialist Mercantile Judge at the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, to share the platform with me. Judge Brown has taken the lead on the judicial side in organising the e-Disclosure training which I am to give in November.
Quiet rightly, the conference organisers have given Judge Brown top billing as a speaker, and have put him on the panel for a discussion session headed Controlling the costs of E-Discovery through preparation.
The rest of the speaker panel is a good mix of people from corporate legal and information departments, law firm litigation support departments and others, from the UK, US and Europe. Between us, we should be able to cover everything from the moment a user presses <Send> to the time when the spotlight falls on a hitherto unregarded document in court.
See the full brochure for the conference.