The reforms consequent on Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations will take effect in April 2013. A conference taking place in London on 15 November will focus on those which relate to eDisclosure, stressing the benefits which will flow to lawyers and clients and not merely the risks and burdens of compliance with new rules.
It is conventional, when new laws or rules are pending, to see warnings in lurid headlines about the consequences of being unready for the coming changes. Lawyers do this with their clients, of course, urging them to seek advice (from them, obviously) about the steps which must be taken, the policies which must be drafted, the training which must be given and the other preparations which must be made if the clients are not to take the high road to Sodom and Gomorrah when the new rules take effect.
It is easy to take the same line with lawyers themselves when court rules or imminent legislation will affect the way they work. We saw this when the eDisclosure Practice Direction 31B came into force in October 2010 with its obligations to discuss with opponents the sources of their clients’ data, the scope of the search, the tools and techniques which they intend to use to identify disclosable documents, and other things all preparatory to having a meaningful discussion with the judge at the CMC. Many were content to wait until the problem arose, to take on the chin the criticism from their opponents and the judge and to learn the ropes on the job, as it were.
The reforms consequent on Lord Justice Jackson’s report on litigation costs are all to take effect on the same day, 1 April 2013. They are so broad in scope, and some of them are so contentious, that it is easy to miss those parts of the rule changes which directly affect case management generally and eDisclosure specifically. Since they include closer judicial control of cases and an end to the generally relaxed approach which the courts have shown hitherto towards non-compliance with rules and orders, it might be a good idea to start finding out what the changes include.
There is more to the case management regime than the risk of punishment or being made to look a prat in front of court and client. Rule changes, both those of 2010 and those which are coming in April 2013, offer real advantages to lawyers who understand the rules, and to their clients. The 7th eDisclosure Forum, taking place in London on 15 November, is a one-day summary both of the rule changes and of the parts which offer opportunities to those who are ready for them.
Take a look at the event summary here. It has been deliberately drafted (I did it) in terms of the benefits which come from good preparation rather than the risks of getting it wrong. It includes words like “understanding”, “practical”, “strategies”, “proportionality” and “succeed”. The agenda walks through the implications of rule changes and case law, but covers also the ways in which law firm and corporate litigation departments can maximise the opportunities given in the rules to reduce the scope of disclosure and to keep costs down.
The conference has four chairmen, Browning Marean of DLA Piper US, George Socha who invented the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model), Vince Neicho who is litigation support manager at Allen & Overy and me. We are merely the facilitators of the discussions by speakers who include the following:
Senior Master Whitaker led the working party which drafted the eDisclosure Practice Direction 31B and whose judgment in Goodale v The Ministry of Justice is the best example we have of pre-emptive action by a case-managing judge.
Robert Lewis heads Barclays’ in-house eDiscovery function, a model for clients seeking an alternative to the traditional model, and consequently representative of a threat to lawyers which Richard Susskind predicted many years ago. To face a threat, you need to understand it, and no-one explains it better than the man who has successfully controlled clients costs by taking eDiclosure in house.
Professor Dominic Regan is an informed and eloquent speaker on all aspects of the Jackson reforms. His dominant message is that the overall effect of them will be to encourage litigation to the benefit of lawyers ready to face the changing world.
Mark Surguy of Eversheds and Matthew Davis of Hogan Lovells bring hands-on expertise of managing eDisclosure exercises for clients from their positions as, respectively, a litigation partner specialisng in fraud and a litigation support lawyer.
This is the one conference where we (the chairman) get not only to design the programme but to choose all the speakers, and the technology companies sponsoring the event are sending their best advocates of technology use. Kate Paslin of AccessData, Johannes Scholtes of ZyLAB, Drew Macaulay of First Advantage Litigation Consulting and David Kemp of Autonomy are all people whose role involve strategic advice to law firms and their clients.
I have the right to offer some complimentary tickets for this event. Instead of using me as go-between passing on names to the organisers (not least because I will be in Hong Kong and Prague between now and 15 November) drop a message to Eric Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org and say that you heard about the event from me.