The International Conference on Electronic Litigation came to an end here in Singapore yesterday. I have already given you the core statistics – more than 350 participants from 36 countries. I am staying on until Sunday – as on my recent trip to Hong Kong, the exorbitant airfare for a return on Friday or Saturday far outstrips the cost even of this fairly grand hotel. I don’t mind that, really. I am more likely to get my conference reports written if stuck on my own here than at home.
Brad Mixner of Litigation Edge Pte Ltd and Global EDD Group has been keeping the official conference blog which you will find here, reproducing my posts as well as writing his own, with some photographs in addition (the rest of us were banned from taking photographs, as I have noted before, and the one here of Lord Justice Jackson and Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy is taken with thanks from the official blog).
As you will have gathered from my earlier posts, the conference was not just about electronic discovery but about case management and the whole court-led end of the litigation process. A recurring theme in my posts about the event is that the court really does lead here in relation to the rules, the development of court processes and the wider economic implications for Singapore of becoming the leading jurisdiction in the region.
I took part in a panel called Electronic Discovery Law and Practice in Singapore, US & UK led by Senior Assistant Registrar Yeong Zee Kin of the Supreme Court of Singapore, in company with Indranee Rajah, SC of Drew & Napier LL, Tan Hee Joek of Tan See Swan & Co and Brad Mixner. The mixture of a judge, local lawyers, a services provider and me allowed us to look at a range of topics from different angles, quite apart from the involvement of three different jurisdictions. Brad Mixner’s blog includes a photograph of us which I reproduce here with thanks.
Running in parallel with that was a panel called Electronic Discovery – What Corporate Counsel Need to be Aware of which was moderated by Bryan Ghows of UniLegal LLC and included Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy.
There was one session which was not about the litigation process. English barrister Stephen Mason, editor of the LexisNexis book Electronic Evidence, spoke on international developments in electronic evidence. Stephen was, as always, simultaneously learned and entertaining on a subject which is pervasive in its reach, chilling in its implications and trans-jurisdictional in its nature. He reminded us in opening that English solicitors or barristers can pass through all the stages of training and find themselves advising a client without having any knowledge whatsoever of the law of electronic evidence. The same, of course, is true of electronic discovery / disclosure, even in the US. One wonders when law schools and those who define the entry qualifications will start to focus on the real world and on the legal and business skills needed to give advice in it.
I have two more articles to come. One is a report of a speech by Senior Master Whitaker which went beyond mere reporting of developments and beyond also the standard stuff about cooperation, judicial management and the like. The other is the text of the speech which I gave to close the conference. That brought me the new experience of breaking off from speaking to invite part of the audience to shut up. I do not expect a reverent silence when I speak, nor even that the audience stays awake, but the sheer rudeness of people talking at full volume at the table right by my feet got up my nose as well as in my ears. I would normally extemporise a ten minute speech from rough notes, but I had crafted this one with much the same care as I give to blog posts, mainly because I had a set number of topics to fit into a small time-slot. I could barely hear myself, let alone focus on cadences and emphasis. These were not, I hasten to add, Singaporean people, nor part of the large judicial contingent, and their manners were not representative of the rest of the delegates.
I am not much good at either tourism or shopping on my own, nor am I overfond of damp heat, and am generally content sitting in my hotel room clearing the decks – I have only five days at home before setting off for ILTA 2011 in Nashville. The press lists for that have obviously been published and I am, as usual, busy fending off requests from PR agencies who seem to mailshot everyone on the press list without regard to their (in my case anyway) well-defined field of interest, and offering me introductions either to companies with unrelated products or to people whom I have known for years. I am impeccably polite in replying, managing, for the most part, to keep my time free for the people and products of those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project and for the random and unplanned industry conversations which interest me far more than gazing at yet another look-alike demo by someone with whom I have no connection. Apart from steering through that chicane, ILTA is always pure pleasure, with its mixture of first-rate education, industry gossip and social events.
I will be back in Singapore, this time with my wife Mary Ann, for the InnoXcell eDiscovery conference on 31 October. The website for that is not yet up, but what I know of the program, coupled with the enthusiasm seen here in the last few days, suggests that this will be an event worth coming to. I will post a link as soon as the details are published.
These short bursts of peace and anonymity in a decent hotel are quite refreshing. Most people are on holiday anyway; I am known to be away and, in any event, this particular time zone is safe from most interruptions. The service is good here and the waitresses are pretty and immaculately turned out, which brightens up the experience of waiting to be served. The food is adequate as long as you avoid the WTF hot breakfasts usual in big hotels all around the world (you know, you lift the silver dome and say “WTF is that?”) and there is an infinite selection of menus within a few blocks. I can’t complain of the view from my window and, unusually for these hotels, there is a balcony with an opening door. I don’t think that I would cross the world simply to get these benefits, but these occasional odd days of seclusion are a valuable by-product of my travels.