Those who come here often will know that I was in Singapore in October last year shortly after the introduction of their Practice Direction No 3 on Discovery and Inspection of Electronically Stored Information . I had been invited to speak at and to co-chair the LexisNexis conference there, and Senior Master Whitaker was in Singapore anyway at the invitation of the Singapore courts. My article about it LexisNexis eDiscovery Conference in Singapore made it clear that I expected Singapore to become a source of interesting and positive developments in the e-disclosure / e-discovery market.
Singapore is of particular interest in that, whilst it clings (quite rightly) to the proper term “discovery”, its discovery rules are firmly based on the disclosure rules of England & Wales. It has the luxury of taking the best of developments in other jurisdictions which, whatever they call the process, require the preservation and exchange of documents.
My attention has been drawn to a new venture in Singapore. Called BiziBody, its tag line is Helping small law firms succeed, and one of its specific areas of expertise is electronic discovery. My attention was drawn to it when Serena Lim, corporate lawyer turned legal technology consultant, turned up as a follower of my posts on Twitter (this is not another plug from me for the communal and informational benefits of Twitter, just another everyday example of Twitter’s use as a means of bringing together people with common interests – all right, it is a plug, but having found fodder for three articles from this weekend’s tweets alone, I am rather into it today).
It is worth having a look at BiziBody’s electronic discovery section and its newsletters for November and December, and not just because they explain clearly for Singaporean lawyers what the implications are of the new practice direction. As well as references to Singapore’s own cases (which I will follow up in due course) there are familiar quotations from UK cases such as Earles v Barclays Bank Plc  EWHC 2500 (Mercantile), Digicel (St. Lucia) Ltd & Ors v Cable & Wireless Plc & Ors  and Nichia Corp v Argos Ltd  . These all have themes such as proportionality and competence which run through case law in every common law jurisdiction regardless of the differences between the precise obligations of the rules.
The contents of the BiziBody pages are of interest to me at three particular levels: they tie in with my own global approach to e-discovery based on my assessment that each jurisdiction has something to learn from, as well as to teach, to others who grapple with the same problems; they speak to firms of all sizes; and they promote the idea that this subject is not just a source of doom-laden awful warnings but is a potential source of new work for those firms willing to accept the challenge.
I will not be the only one interested in how things develop in Singapore. Those of us who are involved in the UK’s new practice direction are alert to the iterative benefits of watching progress in Singapore, since their practice direction took account of our PD of 2005 amongst other sources. By “iterative”, I mean that there is a potentially virtuous circle here as each jurisdiction keeps in touch with what happens in the others. The suppliers of software and services, particularly those with global reach, will also be interested in developments in Singapore. If BiziBody’s initiative continues as it has started, it will not just be the small firms whose skills and knowledge will develop.
I very much want to go back to Singapore during 2010 and I hope that Serena Lim will let me know of any opportunities for that which come her way. Meanwhile, here is a copybook example of a global business use for the communities of interest which Twitter provides.