ILTA INSIGHT 2008 takes place on 15 April at the Hilton London Tower Bridge. I will be speaking there with Mark Surguy of Pinsent Masons and HHJ Simon Brown QC in a session to report on the progress which has been made on the management of electronic disclosure since the three of us met last year.
We have run a training session for 14 judges in Birmingham, addressed two packed meetings of local practitioners there organised by the Law Society and made, or been booked to make, a number of speeches, podcasts, and webinars on this subject. In addition, I write about every possible aspect of the subject and take every opportunity to connect with anyone interested in the subject.
The progress has not all been at our hands. The Commercial Court Recommendations work to the same end, amongst other aspects of case management, and the judiciary is taking on this challenge at the highest levels, as well as in a court near you.
Mark Surguy will talk about where we have got to so far. I will speak about responsibility – the impact of the US Qualcomm case, the identity of the person who is (or should be) responsible for the disclosure statement, how the judges must share the responsibility for culling and filtering document populations and how the courts are moving towards making senior management responsible directly to the court.
Judge Brown will tell us that the judge is the end-user for all this disclosure activity, that an inability to handle electronic documents properly is akin to ignorance of the rules, and that users of his court are expected to focus on the key issues, on the facts which underlie those issues, and on the documents which support (or do not support) contentions about those facts. He will also talk about a proposed new form of technology questionnaire and a draft directions order which expressly (and for the first time) provides for electronic disclosure.
Anther disclosure-related talk at ILTA is one on the risks and benefits to law firms of providing e-disclosures services directly, as opposed to outsourcing them. Many firms, it seems to me, are approaching the risk-management by hoping that document-heavy litigation won’t come to them, which seems an oddly negative form of practice development.
Like death and taxes, big document populations are now inevitable. If the courts are going to impose a much more rigourous management regime, then you might as well get good at it. If that means outsourcing it to one of the many suppliers of software and services who support this market, well pick up the phone and do it.
If you want help with finding solutions, whether in-house or external, then please contact me.