In the U.S., many lawyers are calling 2010 “the year of e-discovery sanctions”. There were more sanctions and parties cited for failing to adequately respond to e-discovery requests than in any previous year. The costs associated with e-discovery are also growing at an exponential rate. As a result, corporate counsel are starting to realise that the costs and risks associated with scrambling to locate and organize e-discovery evidence after litigation strikes are just too high.
In Canada, things are not (yet) as daunting as in the U.S. Canadian courts are opting to be more proactive, changing rules and adopting the Sedona Canada Principles to direct counsel down the right e-discovery path from the outset. However, the courts are making it clear that they will not tolerate parties who fail to properly address e-discovery processes.
So what’s the solution? According to a Forbes report, e-discovery needs to treated as a standard business process, like legal, corporate governance, HR, and IT, and not as a project that is kicked off on an as-needed basis.
As we emerge from the most recent recession with its associated financial restraints, this idea may sound too expensive to deal with at the moment. However, as the Forbes article suggests, companies should see this it as an opportunity to introduce cost savings into the organization, by changing the current corporate culture so that employees understand how their role is governed by and influences e-discovery requirements.
A side effect of this corporate wide ESI management revolution is that IT will end up spending much less time and money managing digital information, and employees will see a dramatic reduction in the time it takes to find the information they need to do their job. The cost savings from this alone will more than offset any expense due to corporate training and auditing.
In 2011, transform your corporation’s e-discovery approach from a tactical search and rescue mission into a strategic business function.