Peter Hibbert has written an impressive work, The Electronic Evidence and E-Disclosure Handbook. Does it deserve a place on your bookshelf? I have a quick review and a longer review. They both lead to the same conclusion.
THE SHORT REVIEW
Do I need this?
Can I do without it?
Does it contain everything I need to know?
Is it value for money?
Should I buy it?
THE LONGER REVIEW
Electronic Data is expanding at a major rate. Information is available everywhere from our mobile phones to electronic tills. This has a major impact on many types of litigation. “Discovery” used to be a fairly mundane and mechanical process of identifying relevant disclosable hard copy documents; e-disclosure, on the other hand, could be a never-ending process.
THE LAY OUT OF THE BOOK
The term “handbook” is perhaps a misnomer, it is both a guide and an authoritative text. Best of all, however, it starts from the beginning with “Understanding the E-disclosure Project Management Process”. It is practical, it covers procurement and processing. The title of chapter 3 will provide comfort for many “Stepping into the shallow end”.
“Documents” in the E-disclosure age.
Then there is the meat of many of the issues relating to E-disclosure, the term “documents” has a very wide meaning which can come as a shock to clients.
- Disclosure of business communications: E-mails, Voice data and Messaging systems.
- Tracking social media for E-Disclosure purposes.
- Cloud computing : E-disclosure issues.
The section on the rules deals with the basic duty to preserve documents and the scope of disclosure. However the practical nature of the book is shown by the three chapters on:
- Preparing for the First Case Management Conference.
- The Case Management Conference: Disclosure and Inspection Directions.
A chapter on sanctions?
Well yes. We have already seen some very big cases come to grief because of failures to comply with unless orders. The chapter covers striking out where there has been destruction,concealment of or tampering with data. Costs sanctions for disclosure failures. Costs sanctions against the opponent’s lawyers for disclosure failures; the drawing of adverse inferences when documents are not disclosed; contempt of court for false disclosure statements and relief from sanctions. There are few books on civil procedure nowadays that cannot discuss the Denton principles in some detail.
Professional conduct and privilege
Two chapters deal with the specific obligations imposed by the SRA and BSB in E-disclosure cases. The duties of the solicitor, in-house counsel and barristers are each considered separately.
Of particular interest is the section on steps to be taken when documents are disclosed by an obvious mistake.The language gets entertaining with “claw back” and “quick peek” agreements coming into play.
That big place called “abroad”
The final three chapters of the book deal with cross-border litigation issues and matters relating to international arbitration.
All in one useful place we have a glossary of E-Disclosure Terms; the Rules and Practice Directions; the edisclosure protocol; Case Management Forms and a raft of material on cross-border data protection.
WELL IS IT A GOOD READ?
I suspect you may have to be an author of legal texts to know the hours, and hours, of research, work and (sometimes) anguish and gnashing of teeth that goes into preparing a book like this. To have covered this range of material and made it accessible, readable and authoritative is an immense and impressive task. It is both an essential work of reference and a practical guide. I can think of no higher praise.