E-disclosure—a technological arms race for litigators

E-disclosure—a technological arms race for litigators

Dispute Resolution analysis: How can law firms make the most of technology in the disclosure process? Adrian Palmer, chief executive officer at Proven Legal Technologies, explains how the latest technology can give law firms an advantage over the other side.

Why do you think e-disclosure consultancies became so relevant?
All the procedural changes that have been coming along have been playing towards our strengths. The early part of the commercial litigation timetable, after proceedings have been issued, is now very compressed. In 2010 when the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, SI 1998/3132 PD 31B (CPR) came into play, it was an attempt by the courts to try and get parties organised with their disclosure as the process had started to become problematic. Parties were trying to deal with disclosure towards the end of the timetable and by that point they simply had too much to do so the process had become shambolic.

CPR PD 31B was designed to get lawyers talking to each other on important aspects of the disclosure—systems, document types, etc—and to start to agree about the disclosure process early on.

What does the involvement of a consultancy in e-disclosure offer?

Thrusting litigators do not necessarily speak ‘IT’. Despite CPR PD 31B having been around for some time now, I still see a lot of dreadful electronic disclosure questionnaires (EDQs) and think that sometimes fee earners are not the best people to be talking to their clients about what IT systems they have. E-disclosure providers are instructed to have that technical conversation with IT teams to ascertain:

• the types of data available
• the systems involved (and how they have evolved)
We will then use this information to go through a ‘data mapping’ process for the relevant time period.

This initial exercise goes beyond simply firing off a written questionnaire to an IT department as one answer to a question might set you off down a completely new line of enquiry. By fully questioning the IT team, we can

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About the author:
Kathy specialises in restructuring and cross-border insolvency. She qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and has since worked for Weil Gotshal & Manges and Freshfields. Kathy has worked on some of the largest restructuring cases in the last decade, including Worldcom, Parmalat, Enron and Eurotunnel.