As I sign off for Christmas, I would like to thank all those who have sponsored, supported or in any other way encouraged the e-Disclosure Information Project in 2008 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
It is only a month since I did a round up to cover the Project’s first birthday. Since then, we have had yet a third new e-disclosure case in the UK, Abela v Hammonds, and LDSI has joined the sponsors.
There is already a great deal planned for next year: the conference diary is filling up; my Law Society seminar tour will take up again; there should be a good UK showing at LegalTech in New York; there are plans afoot for co-operation with US, Australian and Canadian judges, rule makers and thought leaders with, I hope; a visit to each of these countries in March/April; there is a Technology Questionnaire to launch and a Practice Direction to draft; I hope to repeat in other UK cities the talk we gave in Birmingham at which we showed judges, barristers and solicitors some of the applications which are used in electronic disclosure; Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy and I are plotting an e-disclosure conference on our own model; with the Project format now established, I am looking forward to yet more interaction with its sponsors; as well as going to see and speak to people on their own patches in the UK and abroad, I hope to entice more visitors to come to Oxford and kick ideas around on Port Meadow, as I have done several times this year.
Port Meadow, Oxford, under snow
It is invidious to identify particular people who have helped beyond those who kindly fund the Project, but I will do so anyway: Senior Master Whitaker and HHJ Simon Brown QC who have been unfailing sources of ideas, introductions and support; Allen & Overy who not only hosted the meetings of Master Whitaker’s drafting team but fed us as well and, yet more helpfully, have allowed Vince Neicho to bring his time and very great experience to the encouragement of e-disclosure; Jonathan Maas of DLA Piper UK LLP who makes editorial suggestions promptly and tactfully, picking up the typos and the phrases which do not come out quite as intended; Browning Marean of DLA Piper US LLP with whom I have spent many pleasant and constructive hours in places as diverse as New York, Dallas, Sydney, London, Birmingham and on Skype; all those who have invited me to their events and parties; and people from all over the common law world who have kept me in touch with what is happening in their jurisdictions. Thank you all.
I have made my predictions for 2009. The biggest single change over the next 12 months will be a convergence of approach between the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. “Approach” sounds rather woolly. I don’t mean that we will all adopt matching rules – they cannot achieve that even between the states and provinces of federated countries – but we will take more notice of what works and does not work elsewhere. The technology is the same everywhere anyway, though the take-up of new early case assessment applications will be driven as much by court, client and costs pressures in all these jurisdictions as by marketing skills. The approach I have in mind is encapsulated by the parallels in the US Mancia case and the judgments in the UK Digicel and Abela cases – hands-on case management to make parties identify early and co-operate to keep the costs down.