Tuesday morning, Lexis Nexis sponsored a panel discussion on proportionality, discovery plans, and the effects that the new Ontario rules are having on the way litigation is being carried out. The panel consisted of Master Calum Macleod, Kelly Freidman of Ogilvy Renault, and our very own Susan Nickle.
Proportionality was described as one component of a set of rules designed to encourage a cultural change in the legal community. It is no longer acceptable to proceed unilaterally – parties must come together sooner and communicate more often, in order establish a real dialog and focus on the issues at the beginning of the matter, not at the end.
The new rules, and particularly the requirement for a discovery plan, are leading lawyers to develop a better understanding of technology. To be sure, most lawyers will not become techno-geeks, but it is important for lawyers to understand how electronic information is stored and where it likely resides. It is equally important for lawyers to appreciate that discovery has not changed just because documents are stored electronically – in the end, the case will hinge on same handful of documents. The only difference is that those documents will fit on a CD rather than in a banker’s box.
There were many questions from the approximately 90 people in attendance, including dialogue about the concept of proportionality forcing litigants to think of alternative forms of proof, as some traditional forms of proof may be too cost-prohibitive.
The seminar clearly illustrated that the new rules are having an influence, and will continue to shape litigation into a more manageable, cost effective tool to resolve disputes.