Thomas Sely is Senior Director – eDiscovery and Forensic Technologies at FTI Consulting in Paris. I interviewed him in London recently, interested to know more about the demand for forensic technology in France, where FTI has been expanding its technology practice.
Thomas Sely said that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the uncertainty around Brexit had made it important for FTI to have a team in continental Europe. This is not new territory for FTI – it set up an office 10 years ago in Paris, and was enthusiastic about expanding its investigation and litigation support team.
Although there is no eDiscovery obligation in French litigation, the parties may still want to look at their own data. In addition, litigation or investigations in France may be part of wider global actions in which discovery is required.
The main driver in France, Thomas Sely said, is intense activity from regulators which are quite active, especially the French Competition Authority which is quite sophisticated in its use of technology, more so than other regulators. Regulators have been imposing large fines in recent years.
Employment law, data protection law and the GDPR, privacy and the so-called “blocking statute” preventing certain transfers of data out of France, all require attention.
The French data protection authority, CNIL, has issued some guidance. It is important, for example, to search data in country before any of it leaves France. FTI has opened a data centre in France to help organisations better manage their data risk.
Although compliance can always be seen as just a cost, it can also be seen as improving competitiveness. France’s anti-corruption laws have had a significant effect, and French organisations are now more open to investing in compliance.
FTI is growing its local team and is keeping its eyes on the growth in the wider continental European market.