A letter in yesterday’s Times throws a new light on the interest which His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC has in electronic disclosure. As regular readers know, Judge Brown is an enthusiastic proponent of cutting down litigation costs by tight management of disclosure. His letter, “Planes to refresh the city’s masses” was prompted by a recent Times article about cutting down trees – or rather, about not cutting them down because of the value attributable to them under the new Cavat scheme.
Judge Brown is Master of the Garden of the Inner Temple, and his letter is about the two rows of 21 plane trees beside the Embankment. These were planted in 1871 on top of the new Underground railway and the main sewer and other pipes and wires, specifically for their environmental value as filters.
Arguments about saving trees do not often appear amongst the published reasons why disclosure should be given electronically. Perhaps they should. You know that virtuous-looking little notice which some firms put at the bottom of their e-mails, the one with a little green tree logo beside it.
I bet that there is somewhere an email addressed to a litigation support services provider reading something like this:
I attach a 6Gb Outlook PST and confirm my instructions to print every message and its attachments and send them to me in ring binders as quickly as possible so that we can review them.
Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail
I have reported elsewhere (Commercial Court judges set out their case management intentions) that Mrs Justice Gloster was scathing about “stowaway ring binders of hard copy documents” filling the court. Although her context was reducing costs, she referred also to the environmental implications of providing multiple sets of what she called “counsels’ comfort blankets”.
Judge Brown has the same double motive for seeking to eradicate paper in his court.