FTI Consulting are presenting a webinar on structured data on Thursday 19 November at 1300 GMT. The subject is perceived by some as too difficult to talk about, but it cannot be ignored.
Elephants have provided a recurring theme throughout this blog. They are large, hard to get your arms around and difficult to describe to someone who is not familiar with them – which makes them the perfect model for the structured databases in which a very high proportion of company information resides.
E-mail, and user files like Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, spring readily to the mind of a lawyer required to disclose “documents”. Sources such as HR and financial databases tend to be overlooked, largely because they usually bear little relationship to the conventional idea of a “document”.
The lawyers often fail to talk about them at all, which makes them the “elephant in the room”. That expression strictly implies that everyone knows about it but tacitly agrees not to mention it, but can extend to things which ought to be obvious but get overlooked. The words give rise to the title of a webinar about structured data to be presented by FTI Consulting on Thursday 19 November at 1300 GMT. The presentation is called The elephant in the room: financial, transactional and operational databases in e-disclosure. Registration is here.
The speakers are Vivian Tero, Program Manager, IDC’s Compliance Infrastructure Service, Jim Vint, Managing Director, FTI Consulting, Inc.and Nick Childs, Director, FTI Consulting, Inc.
Much of my own knowledge of the subject derives from a lunch with Jim Vint, who managed to make it comprehensible between mouthfuls. If he can achieve this in that context, a more structured discussion with two other experts should be worth listening to.
The recent judgment in Earles v Barclay’s Bank reminds us that parties cannot simply ignore documents and data which are thought to be too difficult to find or extract. It is perfectly proper, however, to explain in your disclosure statement that that the cost of extracting the data is disproportionate to its likely value. Bare assertion, however, is not enough – you need to know what you have got, to make an assessment of its value as evidence, and to be able to give some idea of the costs.
In many cases, of course, the material lying in structured databases is not merely disclosable as a formal matter but is highly material to bringing or defending a claim. It raises all kinds of issues, not least the practical and logistical difficulties involved in producing data for review and for subsequent exchange with opponents or production to a regulator. It is not enough to wait until the problem arises; pre-emptive planning is required.
Further details about the webinar will be published in due course. Meanwhile, save the date – Thursday 19 November at 1300 GMT. Use the registration page to book your place.