On the surface, my area of professional interest looks pretty narrow. When I launched the eDisclosure Information Project, its proposed scope was implied by the word “eDisclosure” – only the civil jurisdiction of England and Wales uses the term “disclosure”, and I set myself the task of carrying information between courts, lawyers, clients and providers in that narrow context. That proved limiting very quickly: civil litigation is only one of the reasons why parties need to identify, analyse and review electronic information, and England and Wales is only one of several jurisdictions which impose such requirements. The US, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland have relevant obligations in civil litigation and they – the US in particular – export those obligations by expecting foreign parties to comply with their domestic rules when they litigate in US courts or fall within the powers of a regulator or state enforcement body.
That brings in countries with no discovery tradition, including EU countries and those of the Asia-Pacific region, such as China, who have increasing amounts of trade with the US but whose data protection and privacy laws, as well as culture, are inimical to common law discovery demands.
I could purport to cover all this by sitting at home in Oxford distilling what I find on the Internet, and communicating with people around the world by email and video-conferencing calls. That would certainly be easier than what I actually do, which is to get on a plane to go and see things for myself. I don’t kid myself that I become expert in a jurisdiction by dropping in from time to time, but the “carrying messages” part of my role is better fulfilled if I go occasionally to talk with (not just talk to – the listening matters more) people who practice in other places. That took me to Hong Kong for a quick visit to Epiq Systems there earlier this month.
Epiq Systems has three business activities, of which the eDiscovery solutions component (the others are bankruptcy solutions and class-action solutions) plays an ever-bigger part in each succeeding year’s accounts. It has grown from being a software-led company (with its processing tool eDataMatrix and review tool DocuMatrix), to being a broadly-based eDiscovery consulting company offering forensics and collections, processing, document prioritisation and document review services. Its first non-US office was in London, which is where I came across it, and it subsequently opened an office in Hong Kong. Epiq uses Equivio’s Relevance product (now part of Equivio Zoom) for predictive coding and document prioritization, and recent acquisitions bring it a wide range of review tools, including kCura’s Relativity, iCONECT and Concordance FYI together with expansion of its managed review services. Epiq’s most recent development has been the opening of a document review service in Hong Kong, allowing it to offer a full range of consultative, technology and review services in the Asia-Pacific region. Read the rest of this entry »