Back from Carmel and North California

July 29, 2011

I got back from San Francisco this afternoon after nearly two weeks away. Mary Ann (Mrs D) and I went first to the excellent Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat a new venture organised by Chris La Cour.

The star turn there was US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck, both as a keynote speaker on the subject of predictive coding and as an informed and informative panellist, to say nothing of his useful interventions from the floor. Also on the panel was US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte, increasingly a voice to be heard on the balance which is called proportionality. Back in San Francisco, she showed us her court, an interesting supplement to my knowledge of the US judicial system.

There were other excellent sessions and plenty of interesting people to talk to. My reports will come out over the next few days, together with some comments received on an earlier post and my reaction to them. It seems likely that Chris La Cour will repeat the show next year. If he does, I recommend that you go, for the atmosphere as much as for the learning. Read the rest of this entry »


Laura Zubulake in her own words at Carmel

July 25, 2011

Whilst it was interesting to hear Laura Zubulake’s behind-the-scenes account of the case which made her name, stories of old battles do not necessarily equip us for the war which follows.

As I recounted in my last post, I have been at the Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat, miles from anywhere in a remote spot in northern California. Apart from the rural location and the more reflective pace which that brings, little distinguishes this event from the many other conferences which I attend. There is a finite range of subjects, and many of the speakers, the vendors and the delegates are people one sees at other places. One does not necessarily want innovation (please no – no ground-breaking cases, no “revolutionary” new software) but the talks by and discussions with different permutations of people are valuable, especially when you don’t have to rush to your next demo, session or meeting as you do at some conferences.

There is a growing feeling, in the US and the UK alike, that it is time that we moved on from the basic elements of eDiscovery / eDisclosure. It is not that the work is done to complete some notional Phase 1. Horror stories abound, of lawyers taking no steps to preserve data, of work which is unnecessary or duplicated, of aggressive tactical play calculated to achieve nothing but extended timelines and wasted costs. We seem, however, to be going at the speed of the slowest members of the ediscovery wagon train, and it is perhaps time to leave them to be picked off by hostile courts and unfriendly clients. The US sets itself higher targets than the rest of us in terms of the procedural hurdles, as well as the volumes, and the falls are correspondingly greater. The resulting debate and discussion is inevitably higher in the US and the role of an outsider is to pick out those things which are of universal application. As in the UK, it so often comes back to the fundamental objectives behind the rules – the “just, speedy and inexpensive” mantra of the FRCP’s Rule 1 and the “overriding objective” in England & Wales. Read the rest of this entry »


Getting to the Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat

July 19, 2011

Carmel eDiscovery RetreatI am at the Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat, a little south of San Francisco. My wife, Mary Ann, is with me, which is what happens when you make your wife a director of the business and put her in charge of travel arrangements. In business terms, I am delegating non-core functions, leaving me free to do the writing and speaking, and all the background stuff which lies behind them. You don’t realise how much time is spent on airline websites and on hotel bookings until you pass the job to someone else. That said, I have just been called from writing this in order to explain how the light switches and bath plug work, which doesn’t happen when you travel alone after years of experience of the obscurity of hotel fixtures and fittings.

The Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat is a new event in the calendar. Chris La Cour, who runs it, invited me to come nearly a year ago and I was not then willing to commit to it before waiting to see what else competed for the time and, to be frank, whether Chris got it to fly. My fellow director was hooked from the start by the photographs of Carmel and the region, and made sure that I kept the week free; meanwhile, the list of speakers and sponsors became more interesting by the month – there is a big overlap between those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project and those involved in this event. Read the rest of this entry »


CY4OR web site brings forensics to lay lawyers

July 15, 2011

A nice reference has turned up on CY4OR’s website to supplement the words like “professionalism”, “expertise” and “excellent” which recur amongst their testimonials. The one I like reads as follows:

Professional and prompt service and able to “dumb down” the technicalities so that they are understandable to computer illiterates like myself

Another reference includes the words “a personal element”, which ties in with my strongly-held view that personal connections are a key differentiator in a market where it is hard for any of them to find new words to describe what they do.

This is not in fact what took me to the CY4OR website. I went there to capture a couple of blog posts which Bethan Williams put up at the beginning of June and which, like all blog posts, have disappeared from the top of the list. They are summaries, in terms intended to be understood by laymen, of the main purposes and benefits of engaging a forensic investigations company like CY4OR.

One is headed Computer Aided Fraud Detection and Investigation Tools and the other is called Recent Developments in Computer Forensics Analysis. Being “computer illiterate”, as the referee describes him or herself, is not itself the problem. The problem lies in not spotting the possibility of finding (or losing) evidence at the right time in a case, and knowing where to turn for help with that. These articles recur in the current edition of CY4OR’s newsletter – this is called Digital Exposure, and you can sign up for it on the CY4OR site.

I am writing a paper for CY4OR which focuses on what lawyers need to know in a broad range of circumstances, including some which are not necessarily obvious. Amongst the testimonials, for example, are a couple which refer to the use of forensic evidence to disprove something or to acquit someone wrongly accused of some computer misuse. It is worth emphasising that computers can hold many clues which may overturn apparently strong but circumstantial evidence, as well as for finding or proving a case.

CY4OR are certified Clearwell partners and the latest entry on the CY4OR blog, headed A More Comprehensive eDisclosure Solution, covers the acquisition of Clearwell by Symantec which has just closed – I wrote about that here. CY4OR will be very pleased to show you what it is which prompted Symantec to buy Clearwell for $410 million.

A pedant writes: “What is a lay lawyer?” Mike Taylor challenges my use of the word “lay” in my heading. He is not wrong to tease on the subject, but I ain’t changing the thing which connects this post to Google’s indexes. “Lay” in this context means “not expert”; lawyers may be expert in the law but, like the giver of the testimonial referred to, not expert by their own admission in some discipline needed to pursue an aspect of engaging in their profession. That is what the article is largely about, and that is why the word “lay” appears in its title.

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Welcome to kCura as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project

July 13, 2011

It is a great pleasure to welcome kCura as the latest sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project.  The connection goes back a bit, and the arrival of their logo on my sites is part of a continuing if intermittent strand of connection-points.

Scene 1

It is years ago – 2004, I guess, in my prior life before the eDisclosure Information Project. Mark Dingle, then at Simmons & Simmons, points me to a small software company which, he predicts, will do very well with its document review platform Relativity. Mark’s recommendations are usually worth following up and I drop kCura a line, getting a reply at once. I knew nothing of US eDiscovery in those days, and no one in the US had heard of me, so the quick response gives a good impression. Other things intervene and I am not in a position to pursue the connection.

Scene 2

Four years have passed and it is the summer of 2008. kCura and Relativity are becoming well known on the strength of some high-profile sales and an unmatched reputation for the quality of the support given to customers. Its CEO, Andrew Sieja, visits me in Oxford. Andrew proves to be about 20 years younger than most CEOs and bursting with enthusiasm for the market and for his software’s place in it. Having never met before, we describe our respective ambitions to each other as we walk up the river. His aim is to make kCura a world-class player within two years; mine is to be seen as authoritative in every jurisdiction requiring discovery over the same period. Our respective ambitions probably seem rather fanciful to each other as we wander along English country paths with the dog. I use our conversation as the springboard for an article Meeting People is Right, my fullest articulation to date of the fairly simple proposition that lawyers need to know who the providers are and what they offer. I wanted, I said, “to make suppliers allies in the collective fight to help lawyers see what is possible”. Apart from references to named people who have moved jobs since then, I would write the same article today. Read the rest of this entry »


Clearwell is now officially part of Symantec

July 12, 2011

Clearwell is now officially part of Symantec is the self-explanatory title of today’s post on the Clearwell eDiscovery blog and of the more formal acquisition report on Symantec’s site as the acquisition and regulatory formalities come to an end. Clearwell’s former CEO, Aaref Hilaly, is now VP and General Manager, Clearwell, after an end-of-term period of mixed sentiment and excitement which I found rather endearing coming from a hard-nosed and extremely commercial company.

The message from the closing blog post is of integration of the eDiscovery and archiving workflow solutions from the two companies. For the moment anyway, Clearwell’s distinctive branding remains on the website, and Aaref Hilaly promises that the information-flow will continue as the integration moves forward. In the interval between my dictating this post this morning and editing it now, the “blog” link on the Clearwell site has been redirected to Symantec’s blog, which shows that changes are rolling out hour by hour.

Aaref Hilaly’s previous post from the end of last month is headed Clearwell lives on, but it’s farewell to “Clearwell Systems Inc”. The post runs through the Clearwell story from the vision of the founding team less than seven years ago through to its sale for $410 million. Aaref Hilaly gives credit to luck along with an obvious pride in the strategic and investment decisions and hard work which brought that reward to the company’s shareholders.

Instead of the conventional one-liner thanking all those who contributed to the company’s success, Aaref actually lists them, from those who organised the first round of funding through to those who handled the Symantec M&A via the development, sales, marketing and other teams. I am extremely touched to be included in a list of those who are credited as “doing so much to help define eDiscovery software as a space and make it intelligible to end-customers”. I started the eDisclosure Information Project in early 2007 and I am not sure that I had heard of Clearwell then. Anyone now making the most cursory review of the market as a potential buyer will come across Clearwell’s name, even without its recent position in the top right-hand corner of Gartner’s eDiscovery Magic Quadrant.

I could be forgiven for having mixed views on these acquisitions – every reduction in the pool of players in the eDiscovery market diminishes the number of potential sponsors for what I do. Fortunately, Symantec is also one of my sponsors, and I very much look forward to being involved with the joint future of these two companies.

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A lull in the Predictive Coding battle

July 12, 2011

The role of a journalist in war, it is said, is to come down from the hills after the battle and bayonet the wounded. I will content myself with a tour of the battlefield.

If this means nothing to you, you may care to refer to my long article Predictive Coding Wars: Recommind Contra Mundum in which I cautiously navigated a war of words which broke out when information software company Recommind issued a press release headed Recommind Patents Predictive Coding. I reported the reactions of others whose technology is of the same kind (I’m treading carefully here with my choice of words) and of market commentators, ending the story with an article of 16 June by Recommind’s CEO, Bob Tennant, headed Of Predictive Coding and Patents.

Recommind’s chief critics were Herb Roitblat of OrcaTec  and Equivio. Herb Roitblat was quick to say that Bob Tennant’s article satisfied him. The story comes up now because Warwick Sharp, VP Marketing and Business Development of Equivio, has written an article headed Predictive Coding, Patent Wars and May the Best Product Win – the latter words being an echo of Equivio’s main message in their formal comment about the subject. In the interim, Metropolitan Corporate Counsel has interviewed Bob Tennant under the heading Revolutionizing eDiscovery With Predictive Coding.

It is probably not a coincidence that Warwick Sharp has taken his headings from Shakespeare’s darkest plays, Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. Shakespeare, of course, has something to say on every subject, including this one – is this Much Ado About Nothing? Do we say, like Mercutio as he bled to death, “a plague o’ both your houses”? Give me a couple of hours, and I could write a whole relevant paragraph made from quotations from Shakespeare’s plays – you might say, for example, that the whole subject is “Greek to me” as Casca said to Cassius, and that you don’t understand a word of it.

We all have things we do not understand – I would lump string theory, Serbo-Croat and line dancing together as areas of skill or knowledge which I am happy to do without. I do not understand, any more, how a motor car engine works – the “any more” signifying both that they have become more complex and that their reliability removes the need to understand what happens when I turn the key. Do you need to know how predictive coding works, what can be patented and what cannot, and how it differs from potato peeling (to take Warwick Sharp’s analogy)? No, you don’t, any more than I need to know what happens when I turn the car key, but you ought to know what advances have been made in computer-assisted document review.

I take a look at some of these applications about once a year – I saw Recommind’s Axcelerate Review & Analysis solution demo on Friday, as it happens, and it is about time I caught up with changes to Equivio’s Relevance since I last saw it. I do not have to go anywhere to see these demos – they are brought to my desk over the web, and are “live” in both senses – a human is presenting them and they involve real-time searches of live data. I can interrupt and ask the demonstrator to go back to explain something again, and they are a painless and informative way of catching up with developments or, if it is all new to you, of understanding these tools and what they can do for you.

As I say, Warwick Sharp’s latest article repeats what was the theme of Equivio’s first riposte to Recommind’s claim – “May the best product win”. What is “the best” is not capable of absolute measurement or, rather, I am not qualified to give a view as to which is the best even if it were politic to try. There are several choices here (Recommind and Equivio are not the only players) and the important thing to understand is that the competition between them drives the technology upwards and the prices down. Any conclusion reached a year ago about what is right for you and for your cases and clients ought to be reviewed – just as your clients are probably reviewing which external law firms are best equipped and skilled for their eDiscovery.

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ZyLAB eDiscovery tools as a prototype for removing discovery bottlenecks

July 11, 2011

When evaluating products of any kind, it is helpful to know how they will cope with the extremes. Cars are road-tested at speeds and in conditions far removed from the everyday experience of most drivers; the specifications for cameras and similar electronic equipment often include statements of minimum and maximum operating temperatures well beyond anything which you and I are likely to encounter; watches operate at depths and altitudes which we hope never to reach.

The equivalent extreme in eDiscovery terms, apart from the ability to handle very large volumes, is a war crimes investigation and tribunal. The data sources are often far removed from the neat corporate environment of servers and laptops; the events took place in circumstances where data preservation was the last priority; the required standard of proof is a criminal one. If your information system is capable of managing those implications, it is almost certainly good enough for your case.

Well-known technology analyst IDC has produced a report called ZyLAB: Enabling Prosecution of the Unspeakable on the technical and operational issues faced by the United Nations information management team in various war crime tribunals, drawing parallels with commercial eDiscovery projects in civil litigation. ZyLAB has been heavily involved in many of these investigations and continues to be so.

There is a press release about the IDC study here with a link to the report itself.

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LDM Global and AccessData announce strategic partnership

July 11, 2011

I was going to say that the strategic partnership recently announced by LDM Global and AccessData is like a wedding announcement – two people you know publish their intention to tie the knot and you think “Ahh, made for each other”. The analogy breaks down pretty quickly, however, not least because these relationships are non-exclusive; if they are at all like a marriage, then it is an open one from the start.

LDM Global is an international provider of information and data management solutions, well-known in the eDisclosure / eDiscovery world on both sides of the Atlantic and further afield. I wrote about LDM Global here when they became sponsors of the eDisclosure Information Project.

AccessData is an eDiscovery software and services company with solutions stretching from computer forensics (its FTK forensic software has been around seemingly for ever) all the way through to review with a range of eDiscovery products including the Summation family of document review applications. They are also a services company – “the full spectrum of services from discovery planning to production” as their website says, and also offer hosting services in the UK, Canada and the US. They also are sponsors of the eDisclosure Information Project – I wrote most recently about them in connection with the excellent conference which I moderated for them in Frankfurt at the beginning of June.

The relationship is non-exclusive on both sides – LDM Global offers a range of technologies to its clients, and AccessData provides its applications through a range of partners in addition to its own services offerings. I spell this out because potential buyers who are new to the market can find these overlaps confusing. It would be a great deal easier, they think, if software companies stuck to providing software, and services companies just offered services or, alternatively, if everybody supplied everything. Markets do not work like that or, at least, fiercely competitive markets like this one do not work like that. It is a strength that companies like LDM Global can open the door to a range of applications, choosing the right one for the job and, crucially, having the skills to manage both the relationship and the technology. It is equally a strength that software companies like AccessData have a stable of knowledgeable partners to take their products to the market.

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Two UK backshoring stories in a week

July 8, 2011

I had not heard the term “backshoring” until this week, but that is perhaps because it is a relatively new phenomenon. It is the opposite, or, rather, the reverse, of “offshoring”, another of those annoying-but-convenient one-word labels for major shifts in business practice. You can’t backshore until you have offshored and repented of it or, as you would say to the shareholders, “Market conditions have changed and what was the right strategy 12 months ago no longer works for us”.

The context in which it arises now is two stories about UK businesses who moved their call centres to India but who are now moving them back. The expressed reasons are diverse – the one headed New Call Telecom Mumbai call centre moves to Burnley gives various reasons for this retreat: costs are rising in India; employment is high, so employees can move jobs with ease (there are not so many choices in Burnley). The one which appeals to me as a consumer is the comment that the East Lancashire accent is “quite pleasant and easy to understand” so that “the average call handling time in the UK should be reduced because people get their point across on the first pass”.

The norm in the UK is that you can always get through to an English-speaking person if you want to place an order or pay a bill. If you want support or service, however, you get put through, after much diversion and pushing of buttons on a crackly line, to a softly-spoken person whose English runs to reading the generic script. My own “favourite” was the ISP’s man-on-the-spot in Uttar Pradesh who started reading me the default instructions (“Turn off your computer and the router and check all the connections, leave it for 60 seconds….”); it turned out that my whole district’s internet service had failed.

You can to some extent trace the rise and fall of economies by the accents used in call centre operations. The first wave of offshoring was to Scotland (I once caused great offence by asking the operative if there was someone in his north-of-the-border office who spoke English); the next round was to India; the Eastern Europeans added a tone of border-guard suspicion to their inability to understand your questions or frame replies (“Vy are you needing asking me ziz question?”); now much of the inbound calling (that is, people cold-calling to try and rip you off as opposed to call handlers failing to resolve your problems) comes with a Far Eastern accent. The tones of East Lancashire will be a great improvement (and let us here head off the whines from the dimmer end of the Left-Liberal pond by emphasising that it is the ability to speak and understand English which matters, not the race, nationality or colour of the speaker). Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to iCONECT as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project

July 8, 2011

I am very pleased to welcome iCONECT as a new sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project – I cannot say “the latest” sponsor, since kCura has come in since the iCONECT logo went up. iCONECT joined just before I left for Hong Kong and I wanted to see a demo before writing about them.

The connection goes back to LegalTech in New York in February when, unusually for me, I sought out iCONECT’s booth – “unusually” because I generally spend that week fending people off not seeking them out. I was curious, because iCONECT is a big name in electronic discovery and our paths had never crossed. Now that I have seen their nXT product, it is yet more curious that I had not seen it before.

nXT is iCONECT’s document review tool, with a strong emphasis on workflow management and lawyer usability. They also have the INCEPT early case assessment software whose emphasis is on estimating the time and cost of review, as well as specialist tools for legal service providers. My primary interest, as always, is in anything which makes it easy for the legal teams to reduce the time and cost of review.

The review application reminded me a little of one of those well-made storage units with a big central space and many easily accessible cupboards and drawers close at hand, each containing some discrete function which users can bring forward or conceal as they wish – or as the administrator wishes, since there is granular user-by-user control over what is seen by whom. I do not do software reviews, as you know, still less try and describe every function, and it is enough to say that most users will find everything they need here. Read the rest of this entry »


Lawyer Invitational Golf Tournaments raise money for Children’s Hospital

July 6, 2011

My friend Robert Childress of Wave Software draws my attention to the Lawyer Invitational Golf Tournaments, the next of which takes place on 18 July at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester NYC. I see that the Westchester event kicks off with a “Shotgun Start” – everything is bigger in America, and I assume that they use a 12-bore where the rest of us would settle for a starting pistol.

I have to say that I do not really understand golf – it seems an awful lot of clutter to carry for a walk and, whilst I see the attractions of driving around in one of those little trucks, it must be slightly tiresome to have to stop and get off it every so often in pursuit of something which just sits there waiting for you to hit it and which you can’t eat when you catch it. Many people seem to enjoy golf, however, including many lawyers, and it is good to see so many of them doing something for a children’s charity.

That charity is the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, a not-for-profit hospital which provides treatment of children from around the world regardless of their ability to pay.

Robert Childress and Wave have been enthusiastic sponsors of the Lawyer Invitational since it began. Other National Charter Sponsors include LexisNexis, Kroll, Thomson Reuters, EMC2, eTera, Encore (now part of Epiq Systems) and Deloitte. The tournaments seem a good way to combine a social event with business networking opportunities as well as the opportunity to support a worthwhile charity.

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Epiq Systems Breakfast Seminar: Cross-Border Regulatory Investigations

July 4, 2011

The UK Bribery Act is now on us, having come into force on 1 July. Like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US, the Bribery Act has highlighted the importance of information management and of eDiscovery techniques and processes both in the preparation for and in the reaction to regulatory and similar investigations.

The subject raises both cross-disciplinary and cross-border implications, with lawyers specialising in the pure regulatory aspects joining forces with eDiscovery / eDisclosure experts to emphasise that a large element of both prevention and cure lies in knowing what information you have, in being able to discriminate between what matters and what does not, and in being able to find relevant documents and information, preferably before the regulator or prosecutor does. Alison Stanton, eDiscovery counsel for the civil side of the US Department of Justice, emphasised at the recent IQPC conference in London that the DOJ will find these documents once it has cause to start looking; the same will be true of the SFO. Modern technology and the skills you need for electronic discovery have all but killed the idea that your needle was safe if its surrounding haystack was big enough.

This was but one of the subjects covered in a breakfast seminar which Epiq Systems organised on 14 June in London. David Cracknell of Slaughter and May and Mark Surguy of Eversheds covered the practical side of the legal context; Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy and I dealt with the e-Disclosure aspects; Professor Dominic Regan brought a more than academic eye to bear on the law.

I find it quite hard to keep notes of events like this, particularly when the moderator, in this case Greg Wildisen of Epiq, may fire the next question at any of the panellists – it makes for livelier discussions, but you lose the thread if you are still noting down the answer to the last question but one. Fortunately, Deborah Blaxell of Epiq took comprehensive notes which you can find here Read the rest of this entry »


Co-operation, calendars and change: eDiscovery parallels from Trafalgar

July 4, 2011

A strutting, ambitious Frenchman with platform heels and an attractive wife wants to make all Europe subject to French bureaucracy. A union of European states wants to take all Britain’s assets and make her people obey foreign laws. The British government has cut back on defence spending and is in no shape for war.

Yes, it is 1805 (what did you think I meant?). The short-arse Frenchman with the elegant wife is not Sarkozy but Napoleon Bonaparte, a strategic genius and master of tactics, whose Grande Armée is encamped at Boulogne within sight of the English shore. He has already once embarked his army into the barges which are to take them across the Channel, but the wind dropped and, besides, the Royal Navy rules the Channel and the combined French–Spanish fleet is blockaded in Mediterranean and Atlantic ports. This is just as well for the British, since defence spending including, crucially, ship building, was cut after the Peace of Amiens in 1802 and the voters are not willing to see their income tax increased. It takes a long time to build a ship of the line and the strongest force on the south coast consists of farmers with pitchforks.

I have been reading Nicholas Best’s Trafalgar, a lightweight but entertaining history of the Battle of Trafalgar of 21 October 1805. Three ediscovery / e-Disclosure parallels came to mind as I read it, one to do with cooperation and mutual interest in mid-battle, one topical one to do with the penalties for a mis-reading of the calendar, and one longer term parable about old technology being replaced by new. There are other parallels as well – we are now largely subservient to European bureaucrats, a Portuguese President of the European Commission has just demanded yet more British tribute money to subsidise the rest of Europe, and the most recent defence cuts leave us in much the same state of preparedness for war as we were after Amiens. I do not claim deep insights here, merely some Sunday evening reflections. Read the rest of this entry »


MoJ Consultation on Civil Justice and Bash-a-Burglar: every man for himself replaces access to justice

July 3, 2011

Lady Hale’s speech on access to justice, the government’s “bash a burglar” scheme, issuing proceedings in Salford, competition from Singapore for dispute resolution as well as banking, eDisclosure and hoods packing heat – all in 2,000 words.

A Ministry of Justice consultation has as its title Solving Disputes in the County Courts: creating a simpler, quicker and more proportionate system and the sub-title Reforming Civil Justice in England and Wales. The consultation closed in the same week as the MoJ announces plans to clarify how much force you may use to kill a burglar and coincides also with a well-received speech by Lady Hale about access to justice.

There is a mixed bag here, human rights rubbing shoulders with the right to self-defence, and in the same bag as the cost of commercial litigation. The common theme seems to be the withdrawal of the state from the inter-action between its businesses and citizens. I am all for a small state, but there is plenty to trim before government abandons the provision of justice. If it was a business, you would say that this was a core function. The MoJ’s core function seems to be the provision of employment for civil servants.

Thanks to my being abroad, I bring you this consultation too late for you to make representations on it, but you may like to see what is going on – and this show will run and run.

The reference documents are as follows:

The MoJ consultation paper CP 6/2011

A post by Charles Christian on the Orange Rag of 27 June headed The judge says technology reform is not happening fast enough. This links to the consultation response by HHJ Simon Brown QC of the Birmingham Mercantile Court and to a letter from him to the Times of 23 March.

My own representation, made on 29 June which, as you will see, focuses on the urgent need for judicial training.

I think that we have to accept that none of the demanded improvements will happen, in the short term at least. Modernisation of the court systems was promised by new Labour in their first year in office and, like so many of the Blair government’s promises, was either dishonestly made at the time to catch the next day’s newspapers or was blocked by Gordon Brown as part of his strategy of spiking Blair’s guns wherever possible. Civil servants are adept at blocking change, hopelessly out of their depth when negotiating procurement contracts, and always willing to sacrifice client-facing staff and services in favour of jobs for senior paper-shufflers. Read the rest of this entry »


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