Identifying opportunities at the second ALM – ILTA Legal Technology Summit in Hong Kong

April 28, 2014

AsiaTechSummitALM and ILTA brought their second Asia Legal Technology Summit to Hong Kong in March. I make no apology for reporting on this event several weeks after it took place. I went on a long trip to the US almost immediately after it, and UK events have kept me busy since. The output includes photographs and video as well as words, and these take time to process. Besides, these big events have significance which lasts beyond the day itself. As it happens, I am back in Hong Kong this week for another legal technology / eDiscovery event; the fact that Hong Kong can support two such events so close together is itself interesting.

Henry DickerAs with last year, the event was held in the JW Marriott in Hong Kong, one of the more attractive venues for such conferences. Welcoming speeches were made by Henry Dicker, CEO of LegalTech (right), and by Barry Wong of sponsor Consilio (below). Both emphasised the increasing opportunities which Hong Kong offers to those with expertise in electronic discovery and other areas where legal services matter.

Barry WongConsilio, for example, is a global company with offices and data centres in North America, Europe and Asia whose growth in AsiaPac reflects the fact that big clients, wherever their formal corporate headquarters, conduct business everywhere and, increasingly, in Asia. To some extent, the US heritage is valuable, not least because of its business, regulatory and technology leadership; that must be combined, however, with an understanding of local culture and practice and a sensitivity to the fact that US commercial imperialism does not necessarily travel well in undiluted form.

A recurring theme at the conference, therefore, was that business and legal offices in AsiaPac are a) much the same as elsewhere in many ways, b) are different, for all sorts of cultural reasons which are not easy to detect and c) can benefit from the experiments and the learning which has gone on elsewhere. You need feet on the ground as Consilio has, not the occasional parachutist from the US, for this to work. Read the rest of this entry »


Justice takes a bashing but litigation work goes on

April 2, 2014

To say, as I did in a recent article, that that “civil justice in the UK has plunged off a cliff” is not the same as saying that civil disputes are in decline. Litigation lawyers, at least at the mid- to high level, seem to be busy enough, as do most of the London-based eDisclosure providers. The Jackson Reforms, now a year old, have positively generated work for some, although much of the focus has been more on procedural matters than on evidence and issues. Part of this, conveniently labelled “Mitchell”, has been negative, the opposite of the “justice” which the overriding objective requires; part of it, and particularly the eDisclosure aspects, reflect the attention which the rules now require on the sources, the methods and the costs of disclosure. One can deprecate the Mitchell aspects whilst thinking it right that parties are being required to pay early attention to the evidence and to the prospective costs.

Whilst in the US recently, on a tour which embraced both eDiscovery events and a short holiday, I wrote an angry article (“blistering” was amongst the comments I received) on the state of British civil justice. If that seems an odd way to spend a holiday, well, the times are odd and it annoyed me. Better out than in as they say, so I wrote to get it off my chest. The article was headed The Jackson consultation responses pull no punches but Grayling and the MoJ will ignore them.

The article had three targets – a Lord Chancellor who seems ignorant of the basic concepts of justice, a Ministry of Justice staffed by people whom I described as “standard issue overpaid time-servers and… academics who have failed to hack it in the strenuous world of university life”, and senior judges whose understanding of the practicalities of business life is defined by their lifetime experience of working for very big firms, on very big cases, for very rich clients.

I referred to one or two of the responses to the Civil Justice Council’s consultation, mainly to show that my observations were derived from the daily experience of those who have to deal with the consequences of these things. I was at pains to draw attention to differences (identified in some responses) between Lord Justice Jackson’s original recommendations and the position in which we now find ourselves. Quite apart from the fact that he had nothing to do with (for example) the reduction in legal aid, Lord Justice Jackson specifically recommended investment in court systems; whilst he was keen to encourage compliance with the rules, it was no part of his plan that we should have the climate of fear and uncertainty which derives from Mitchell. Read the rest of this entry »


The Jackson consultation responses pull no punches but Grayling and the MoJ will ignore them

March 19, 2014

There is a palpable sense that civil justice in the UK has plunged off a cliff in the short time since the implementation of the Jackson reforms. A few of the responses to the Civil Justice Council’s consultation have been published. They make grim reading, particularly as we can be reasonably sure that neither the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling or anybody at the Ministry of Justice will actually read them or give a toss what anyone thinks about the ruin of the civil justice system.

Although some commentators blame Lord Justice Jackson personally for this (and even talk of a “right-wing conspiracy”), most are willing to acknowledge that there are wider forces at play here and that what we are left with is not what Jackson intended. How do we object? If we are outsiders we are ignored. What insider will raise his head above the parapet? What will happen to him or her?

We have a “Lord Chancellor” who knows no law, who has no feel for what is important about justice, and who just wants to deliver cuts to George Osborne like a small dog bringing a ball to its master. It is said that the senior judiciary decline to refer to Grayling as “Lord Chancellor” out of contempt. I begin to wonder what we should be thinking of the senior judiciary.

Grayling’s personal conduct should be irrelevant: the supine little people who supervise MPs’ expenses turned a blind eye to Grayling’s use of Parliamentary expenses to buy an unnecessary flat, so we should ignore it, notwithstanding that equivalent conduct by a benefits claimant would have landed him in jail; bare-faced lying is a natural trait for a politician, and while we might hope for better in a holder of the ancient office of Lord Chancellor, we get what are given. So we should ignore all this and judge Grayling solely by what he does; that is enough to hang him anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


The Commercial Litigation Association of Ireland launches a Good Practice Discovery Guide

March 10, 2014

As will be clear from other references on this site, I am interested in developments in discovery practice in any jurisdiction for which eDiscovery is required by the rules of local civil procedure.

My most recent involvement in this respect was in Hong Kong where I took part in a panel discussion on the proposed Hong Kong eDiscovery Practice Direction which is closely modelled on Practice Direction 31B in England and Wales.

The Commercial Litigation Association of Ireland has just released a Good Practice Discovery Guide which you can get from the CLAI website here. As with the Good Practice Guide to eDiscovery published last year (I wrote about it here) Mr Justice Frank Clark has been closely involved in its production. Another common feature between the two guides has been the involvement of Simon Collins of Ernst & Young Ireland.

Mr Justice Clarke is one of the speakers at the IQPC Information Governance and eDiscovery Summit to be held in London on 13-15 May where we will have the opportunity of hearing from him about eDiscovery developments in Ireland.

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Washington and New York to Mitchell via privacy, Singapore and Lobachevsky

February 17, 2014

The problem with running a website which offers news and updates is that people notice when it lies silent – the essence of news is that it is new. In fact, I have never aspired to timeliness and, as I say often, if it is important now, it will be important in a month’s time. This post supplements a brief note which I put up last week. Most of it is about Washington and its wonderful memorials, about the week in New York with my panels on eDiscovery technology and privacy, and about the things which got in the way when I got home. That includes some ruminations on the fall-out from Mitchell v NGN, on the unpleasant and economically-illiterate thug who carries the proud title “Lord Chancellor” and his minions at the Ministry of Justice, and on the decline of London’s aspirations to be a forum of choice for international litigants, with side references to Hong Kong (where I go next) and Singapore. There is also a bit about plagiarism illustrated by Tom Lehrer. You get variety here, if not necessarily thematic consistency.

I was at LegalTech in New York, the biggest eDiscovery industry show in the world. This was my eighth LegalTech and I know the form by now – back-to-back meetings, a couple of panels to sit on, five party invitations every night, dinners with varying degrees of learning and entertainment thrown in, and someone to talk to round every corner. This year brought the added element of sudden snowfalls leading to deep pools of slush at every crossing, particularly tiresome when your meetings alternate between the Hilton on one side of Sixth Avenue and the Warwick Hotel on the opposite corner.

Our attempts, some four months earlier, to book hotel rooms were defeated by some sporting event which apparently drew most of the US population into New York for the weekend. The cost of flights to the US falls steeply if you include a Saturday, so we went first to Washington D.C. – “we” being me, my wife Mary Ann and our youngest son William. The weather was fine and, as always, we were drawn first to the war memorials. Read the rest of this entry »


A reporting hiatus in a bustling eDiscovery / eDisclosure world

December 18, 2013

You may have noticed that my written output has slowed down a little recently. Before somebody writes in to ask why (they do, you know) it may be worth giving a few lines of explanation. Put briefly, UK procedural developments have hogged the limelight, whilst conference events, big issues like privacy, and the daily flow of press releases keep on coming. Those of us who are interested, in whatever capacity, in developments in electronic disclosure / eDiscovery, in case management, in information governance and in data privacy can hardly complain.

The big subject in the UK at the moment is the fall-out from the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Mitchell v NGN (case report here). Whilst this may appear to be a narrow point to do with a defined penalty for a specific failure, the Court of Appeal took the opportunity to send out much broader messages about the court’s policy on default.

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The result has been a flood of articles and opinions, the majority of which have attacked the judgment. There is plenty to attack, but the blunt fact is that we are where we are. We can criticise the policy direction, but there are cases in hand, case management conferences coming up, and decisions to be made in the climate as we find it.

Trying to write about all this requires a degree of focus and concentration which is quite hard to find as articles by others fly in and as we hear of the first of the post-Mitchell judgments. On the whole, I write for the future and not for tomorrow, and I would rather take my time over my article (articles, as I think it will be, one on the context and one with some practical suggestions relating to electronic disclosure).

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If you want to start catching up with what is being said, turn to a list of relevant articles made on his excellent Civil Litigation Brief by barrister Gordon Exall. There is some good stuff in there, but some inevitable repetition between the many contributors to the discussion. There must be a text analysis app which could identify unique points and produce a summary. Read the rest of this entry »


Second Annual New Zealand eDiscovery Conference on 19 March 2014

November 19, 2013

New Zealand is quietly getting on with improvements to its civil procedure rules, supplementing its Discovery Rules of 2012 with a new Electronic Bundles Practice Note.

Andrew King of eDiscovery Consulting in New Zealand has announced the date for the Second Annual New Zealand eDiscovery Conference following the success of last year’s inaugural event. It is 19 March in Auckland.

There is an article about it here. It is being run in conjunction with Ernst & Young and the speakers include Browning Marean from DLA Piper US and His Honour Judge David Harvey.

I had just committed to being in the US in that week when I found about this event, and will not be able to attend – a pity, since New Zealand has been active in the development of good eDiscovery practice, and Judge Harvey is one of the leading judicial thinkers on electronic discovery, electronic evidence, and the use of technology by lawyers and courts. Here is a link to an article which introduces and links to his paper Judging e-Discovery Disputes, which he presented at the Courts Technology Conference 2013 in Baltimore (I aim to write properly about this when the tide goes out a bit).

If I cannot be in New Zealand in March, my consolation is that I may instead get to the other jurisdiction of growing interest in eDiscovery terms, Canada. I wrote recently about the document review centre which Epiq Systems have just opened in Toronto, and that and other factors suggest that a visit to Canada is well overdue.

Perhaps I will make it to New Zealand in the following year.

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