Reform of the discovery process in Australia is said to be “imminent”, according to an article in the New Lawyer. The article says that the Attorney General has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to explore options to promote the early and proportionate exchange of information and evidence in court proceedings with an emphasis on the role of the courts in managing discovery by using their case management powers. My thanks to Simon Price of Recommind for drawing my attention to the article.
The article refers to the experience of international jurisdictions. Those of us concerned with improving the court process are enthusiastic about the exchange of ideas between jurisdictions, particularly where the system of law is similar to ours. Lord Justice Jackson visited Australia as part of his fact-finding tour before writing his Preliminary Report, and we studied the Australian Electronic Technology Practice Note CM 6 when drafting our own new practice direction and Questionnaire.
His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC, the judge who gave the judgment in Earles v Barclays Bank, was a speaker at a conference in Australia earlier this year, and came back full of enthusiasm for what he had heard whilst there. Senior Master Whitaker and I are speaking at the Chilli IQ Information Management and E-Discovery Summit in Sydney on 9 and 10 June and are as keen to listen as to talk about the UK experience.
Next week brings the IQPC Information Retention and e-Discovery Management Summit. One of the highlights will be a judicial panel which includes three UK judges and three US judges. It is on the agenda of the latter to tell us about the recent Duke Conference on Civil Litigation at which ideas for a “once in a generation” reform of the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were discussed, with eDiscovery high on the agenda.
This international exchange of ideas continues in July when Master Whitaker and I are attending the InnoXcell e-Discovery and Digital Forensics Conference in Hong Kong where (as I noted in my recent article about the Singapore Deutsche AG decision), its author Senior Assistant Registrar Yeong Zee Kin will also be speaking.
It is chance rather than anything else which groups these international conferences together (or mischance perhaps, looked at from the perspective of one who would prefer the events to be more widely spaced). Immediately before flying to Sydney, I am speaking in Liverpool with Dominic Regan. The venue may seem less exotic but it is no less important, and the messages about rules, management, proportionality and technology are the same everywhere.