Electronically stored information is the lifeblood of modern business. The convenience and efficiency of electronically formatted information in comparison to paper documents, has not only lead to electronic formats comprising a large proportion of a most businesses communications and stored data, but also to an increasingly prolific production of data. Following from this, when engaged in legal disputes, it would be nonsensical if the media that are now such an integral part of business workings were not taken into consideration.
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Electronically stored information (ESI) brings new challenges to preparing relevant data in response to a litigation case. Foremost, due to the high volume and heterogeneous nature and often-disorganised management of electronic formats. To respond successfully to e-discovery requests, dependable and powerful e-discovery and desktop search tools are imperative.
What is e-Discovery?
E-Discovery, or electronic discovery, pertains to the discovery and exchange of ESI in the opening stages of a civil litigation case. It is now recognised that ESI holds its weight against paper documents in the courtroom. Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the US and the Civil Procedure Rules in England and Wales reflect the decisions of jurisdictions around the world of placing the onus on companies to produce data in response to civil cases, with far-reaching impacts.
At the beginning of litigation, the opposing parties must provide each other with the relevant records and evidence. Furthermore, they must disclose their company e-discovery policy, and how they plan to produce the relevant data under reasonable time constraints. Once the attorneys have identified the relevant information, it must be placed on legal hold, to prevent destruction. These items can then be analysed for relevance and processed for review. In light of the sheer vastness of scope that the case might require, and the organisation of the data involved, discovery can be an arduous process. Fortunately, a well-implemented desktop search solution brings the benefit of cutting quickly through high volumes of unstructured information.
Increasing e-Discovery compliance defensibility
Companies are continually at risk from e-discovery requests. Even when the e-discovery strategy is well structured, mistakes that result in failure to produce can occur. A key emphasis of e-discovery strategy is to maintain defensibility. Defensibility comes from having a well-defined procedure of data retention and destruction. Defensible destruction or defensible disposition is providing the information to justify why, how, when and where what records were destroyed. To be defensible, the process must show repeatability. Desktop search or other search tools can provide strong repeatability in discovery. One stray record that has evaded the management strategy may be construed as merely a portion of any number of records that may have been intentionally withheld.
Desktop search and e-discovery
The repeatability component of e-discovery requires the assurance that you can obtain consistent results when searching your data archives. Central indexes of files, like those created by desktop search tools, provide a strong foundation for consistently and efficiently discovering records. The ability to discover relevant material is another necessary attribute provided by desktop search and e-discovery search tools. It is estimated that 70% of the cost of e-discovery is taken up by the review process, where a legal professional must personally assess the data. This includes the stage where relevancy is assessed. From this perspective, a desktop search should provide a good level of relevancy. Search tools should not overproduce results that are not relevant to the case, which necessitates expensive legal review. On the other hand, underproduction is a failure to meet e-discovery compliance. Companies are not excused for a failure to find information because the haven’t been asked to discover or produce ESI before or lack the capability to do so. Keyword search is still one of the most heavily relied on for e-discovery. A good desktop search should allow reviewers to quickly and intuitively discover relevant documents.
The basis of e-discovery is investigative and extensive information retrieval within an organisation. The first step towards an efficient e-discovery strategy is a robust search tool. Fortunately, there are already effective desktop search and enterprise search tools that can drastically increase the scope and speed of your discovery.