17 September 2018

Embracing technology in litigation

Technology is on the rise inexorably – just look at mobile phones, apps and driverless cars – and the legal world is no exception, with technology playing a leading role in all stages of the litigation process. These advances provide clients with a fast, high-quality, rigorous and cost-effective service – precisely what our dispute resolution team wants to offer.

In some cases, there can be tens of thousands of documents or more to be reviewed as part of the disclosure process. Computer aided technologies are used to help narrow the scope of this pre-trial process, sifting through the documents in the hunt for a ‘smoking gun’.

Electronic discovery (or e-disclosure) software tools have been available for some time to help legal teams with document management and review. The current generation of e-discovery software enables technology‐assisted review (also known as predictive coding).This involves the analysis of large collections of electronically stored information, to determine which documents are relevant to a particular issue, reducing the number of irrelevant documents that need to be reviewed manually.

Studies have shown that this approach is more accurate and cost‐effective than the traditional manual review approach. Combined with other e-discovery techniques (for example, de‐duplication and tools that group email threads together), it can substantially decrease the number of documents for review or help to find the most relevant documents in the fastest way possible.

The endorsement of predictive coding by the English courts in last year’s landmark Pyrrho Investments case, which saw algorithms sift through more than three million documents of potential evidence, has opened the floodgates to the use of machine learning in the document review process.

One such case is that of Triumph Controls UK Ltd and another company v Primus International Holding Co and other companies, in which we acted for the defendants. They sought further, more focused, disclosure orders arising out of what we argued were the fundamental deficiencies in the claimants’ disclosure concerning certain folders or file paths.

The Technology and Construction Court, applying settled law, held the steps the claimants had taken, namely using computer assisted review technology to review only one per cent of some 220,000 documents, had not been adequate and that some form of manual search of 25 per cent of the documents was required.

This highlighted that, while technology can significantly speed up the disclosure process, those using it need to ensure that they do so in a careful and methodical way in order to ensure its accuracy.

For more information on how technology can assist your case, please contact Alison Goodwin at agoodwin@hcrlaw.com.

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About the Author
Alison Goodwin, Partner
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Alison Goodwin is a Hereford solicitor, specialising in equine.

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