I have referred before to Practice Note SC EQ 11 in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Its key paragraph reads as follows:
The Court will not make an order for disclosure of documents (disclosure) until the parties to the proceedings have served their evidence, unless there are exceptional circumstances necessitating disclosure.
I refer to it again because I have two panels coming up involving Australian judges. On Wednesday of this week I am at IQPC’s Information Governance and eDiscovery for Financial Services Conference at Canary Wharf, London. My first panel consists of the UK’s Senior Master Whitaker and the Honourable Justice Robert McDougall of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Next week, I am at IQPC’s Information Governance and eDiscovery Strategy Exchange in Washington, where I am moderating a large judicial panel (with judges from the US, the UK, Ireland and Australia) which includes the Honourable Justice John Sackar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I intend to ask both of them about the Practice Note.
We obviously want to hear how it is working in practice – my understanding is that many, if not most, of the applications made under it have failed either because they were premature or because the applicant did not make a case for “exceptional circumstances”.
I also hope to provoke a discussion with wider implications – whilst it seems unlikely that many other jurisdictions will follow the lead taken by the New South Wales Equity Court, it will be interesting to challenge the opposite idea – that parties must collect and disclose large volumes of documents which no one will ever read, at prohibitive expense.