Computers & Law, the web site and magazine of the Society for Computers & Law always collect predictions at this time of the year from some of those who work at the intersection of law and computing.
One of mine has come good already, and the old year has yet to expire. I said that Digicel v Cable & Wireless “will have an immediate effect on case management of disclosure”. I reported yesterday (see Getting expert search evidence in front of the court) that the judge in Abela v Hammonds made an order which, like Digicel, required parties to co-operate as to the scope of the electronic sources to be reviewed. Digicel was expressly referred to.
My other predictions related to the wider use of early case assessment applications, the growing understanding that solicitors need to get to know some providers of e-disclosure services, proper use of the Practice Direction to Part 31 CPR and the prospect of clients taking some of their e-disclosure work in house.
How did my 2008 predictions fare? So far as I am aware, no judge has yet struck out a statement of case for non-compliance with the PD to Part 31 CPR. Give it time.
Corporate clients are certainly getting concerned about their lawyers’ ability to handle electronic documents, but whether that is yet a routine requirement is less clear. If we see a little more in the public press – not just the e-disclosure cases but high-profile cases like the Wembley construction case – it seems likely that some will start to question where the money is going. Perhaps they will just stop litigating, or take their work to other jurisdictions instead.
I have not heard of an increase in litigation lawyers retained to work from home on e-disclosure matters. It seems a no-brainer to me – when on-line applications can deliver documents for review straight into your kitchen, why flog up to town on an over-crowded, over-priced train?
As for my last prediction, that the Government would make good its 1997 promise to invest in the civil courts – that was a joke, obviously.