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Document Review turns Two: Mischief. Mayhem. Darts.

Our Managed Review team

Can you believe it’s been two years since we opened our dedicated document review centre? Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength, doubling in size and caseload. Below are just a few statistics that  highlight how powerful an offering this service and how much demand is increasing:

  • We have over 1,800 document reviewers registered with us
  • We have worked the capacity to work in 173 languages
  • We have worked on 36 projects over the last 7 months in English, French, Afrikaans, Italian, German, Greek, Hindi, Romanian, Hungarian and Portuguese
  • We have 100 seats at our London centre
  • We are expanding into continental Europe

A competitive second birthday party

Richard, one of our Document Review Managers, takes aim

Richard takes aim

We couldn’t do this without the support of our amazing document review lawyers who come from all over the world to work with us. To thank them, our Managed Review team held a birthday party at Flight Club in Finsbury Square.

For those who haven’t been, Flight Club is a darts bar but not as you know it- gone are battered old boards, pints of flat lager and that particular mental stress that comes from trying to do mental arithmetic in the pressure of a competitive group environment. Instead each cloche has a control panel, a choice of games and a computer/camera set up that automatically calculates scores.

 

Each group played three games and six finalists from each cloche were invited to compete in the grand finale. It was a bit of a surprise to see so many skilled darts players and the final tournament was a nail-biting affair with great performances from each player. However, there could only be one winner- Mr Luke Aaron, Legal Consultant and wannabe late night chat host, who seized victory and took home the coveted gold medal.

If you’re a lawyer and fancy joining our document review team, you can find out more information here.

The winner takes it all!

The winner takes it all!

 

Merry Christmas!

xmas-card-2016

Trends in Document Review: Phase II Investigations

sign-merge_MkryqDdO

Kroll Ontrack’s Document Review centre handles a real variety of projects, each one with unique requirements and for different purposes.  However, one trend we have noticed since opening last January is an increased number of clients requiring assistance in matters that stem from the mergers and acquisitions process. Pre- and post-merger audits and merger control RFIs from regulatory bodies such as the European Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the French Autorité de la concurrence, the German Bundeskartellamt as well as the US Department of Justice are just a few examples of incidences where ediscovery providers may be called upon for assistance.

Phase II is an in-depth analysis of the merger’s effects on competition and requires more time. It is opened when the case cannot be resolved in Phase I, i.e. when the Commission has concerns that the transaction could restrict competition in the internal market. A phase II investigation typically involves more extensive information gathering, including companies’ internal documents, extensive economic data, more detailed questionnaires to market participants, and/or site visits.

As mentioned in Kroll Ontrack’s landmark paper on the pressures faced by businesses from regulators, authorities such as the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, European Commission and US Department of Justice are placing companies under increased scrutiny. As a result, corporations and their law firms are increasingly turning to the technology and specialist document review services offered by ediscovery providers to manage this data and reduce costs.

A recent Phase II request for information perhaps highlights why companies and their law firms are using managed document review services.  We were approached by a leading global law firm on behalf of their client, a FMCG supplier who had been subject to European Commission Phase II request for information and needed urgent document review services.

This case was particularly high priority as the client required highly-qualified review lawyers to start work within less than 24 hours at the weekend and had not contacted Kroll Ontrack until late on Friday afternoon.  However, despite this late notice, we were able to find the requested 7 lawyers to begin reviewing the next day.

Mid-way through the review, foreign language documents were discovered in the system. This could have represented a real set-back in terms of time needed for recruiting lawyers speaking the relevant languages. However, Kroll Ontrack’s pool of review lawyers are of such high calibre the existing team already contained several native and fluent speakers in those languages, despite language ability not being an initial criteria for selection.

In these circumstances, completing such a request in-house would have been incredibly difficult, not only from a technical standpoint but assembling, at short notice, qualified lawyers fluent in the unexpected languages.

Kroll Ontrack was able to provide a total of 42 review lawyers and conduct a privilege review of 19,000 documents and non-privileged review of 29,000 documents within 7 days.  Once the review was complete, the client was so impressed with our efficiency that 10 reviewers were retained in order to complete a redaction exercise.

 

This is not just any Christmas party, this is a Kroll Ontrack Christmas party…

inner temple

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple is famed for its rich legal history, art collection and its enviable array of alumni, including two former PMs, Chaucer (maybe), Baroness Butler-Sloss (of Diana inquest fame),  Sir Francis Drake (explorer) and even Gandhi, to name but a few. But this past week, the solemn surroundings of the Temple’s Main Hall were subject to a very different kind of ‘nonviolent civil disobedience’ in the form of the Kroll Ontrack Christmas Party with special comedy guests, This Is Your Trial.

For the uninitiated, This Is Your Trial is an improvised comedy show where professional comedians play the judge, clerk, prosecution and defence. Members of the audience are then given the opportunity to accuse their friends of crimes. The clerk then selects three cases with the remainder of the audience acting as jury to determine the accused’s fate, hopefully with hilarious results.

andrew partyFirst in the dock was our own esteemed Legal Technologies Director, Mr. Andrew Szczech, charged with the particularly grievous crime of ‘rapping at karaoke’.

An attempt to gain leniency by entering an early guilty plea was rejected by the court after it was pointed out that the evening was a lot more fun if we actually had a trial.

Despite wafer-thin evidence and an extremely unreliable witness, who may or may not have been in the unknown location where the incident is alleged to have taken place, Mr. Szczech was rightly found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of 50 cents.jake party

The second despicable con was Mr. Jake McQuitty, a Partner at TLT solicitors. Mr. McQuitty was indicted with a) taking opera lessons, b) not being grumpy

about his clients and, most seriously of all, c) putting his children to bed! All these acts, in the eyes of his accuser, were not the normal activities of a Partner at a City law firm.

During the trial, it transpired that the dastardly Mr. McQuitty also played tennis to an above average standard and regularly chopped wood in his garden; all wholesome activities which the prosecution leapt on to prove his inherent abnormality. However, the defence cleverly pointed out that all of these details considered together likely rendered Mr. McQuitty a psychopath, just like everyone else in the room. The psychopathic jury agreed and let him walk free.

steph partyThe final defendant hauled before the Court was Kroll Ontrack Case Manager, Stephanie Painter, accused by Peter Susman QC of being ‘too nice’, his sworn evidence being cited as ‘just talk to her’. The Court quickly accepted that Stephanie was indeed ‘nice’, but the case revolved around the central issue of whether she was ‘too nice’. Steph didn’t help her case by admitting that if she stumbled upon an upturned tortoise she would ‘nicely’ turn it the correct way, rather than beat it to death with a rock – pretty nice of her! But ultimately her excellent defence counsel made a very compelling argument that there was indeed a limit to Ms. Painter’s niceness, and seemingly that limit could be found somewhere between allowing Jeremy Clarkson to enter the party but NOT Katie Hopkins or Hitler. This total disregard for the feelings of two of the most monstrous individuals of recent ages meant the jury vociferously and unanimously determined that Steph was indeed ‘nice’ but was not guilty of being ‘too nice’.

I must say, the comedy was absolutely brilliant. So good that I have actually googled their upcoming London dates to take some friends to see a show! All in all, another fantastic event, a huge thanks to all clients and prospective clients for joining us and we look forward to socialising with you again in 2016.

Kroll Ontrack expands local ediscovery capabilities in the Netherlands

Amsterdam Opening 014 (2)

Kroll Ontrack has responded to growing demand from Dutch law firms and companies for local support in international investigations and other legal matters faced by companies in the Netherlands by offering ediscovery services locally in the Netherlands.

We have provided data recovery services in the Netherlands for 8 years and ediscovery services remotely for 10 years and are now establishing a local team of ediscovery experts in Amsterdam. In addition to expanding our operation, we are also moving to new premises which are opening in November 2015 in South Amsterdam, located conveniently close to the heart of the Dutch legal and business district.

Law firms in the Netherlands are increasingly familiar with the benefits of ediscovery, especially where they are dealing with U.S. and U.K.-led litigation, regulatory investigations and other multi-jurisdictional matters. We believe that use of ediscovery technology will become commonplace and that there will be widespread adoption of the latest developments such as predictive coding technology, which automates the document review process and significantly reduces the cost of responding to requests for information.  This adoption of ediscovery technology can also extend into proactive initiatives whereby companies undertake audits of their systems to check for any wrongdoing.

Tim Phillips, Managing Director of Kroll Ontrack International Legal Technologies, said: “The new office in Amsterdam will house a larger, Dutch-speaking team of ediscovery and forensics professionals, giving our clients in the Netherlands access to the expertise they need in litigation and investigations on their doorstep. We are committed to building a long-term business that will employ local experts but that will be backed by the resources of the international leader in ediscovery technologies.”

Tina Shah, Legal Consultant, added: “It’s much easier for clients to call us in to help with regulatory or legal enquiries when we are just a few doors down the road rather than in a remote location.  The flight to leniency in competition matters means that time is often of the essence when investigations or dawn raids take place, so it pays to have an ediscovery partner that is already nearby and able to quickly come to your assistance. Additionally, clients will benefit from our world class data centres in London, Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo as well as our valuable document review service.”

To celebrate the launch of the newly expanded office, we welcomed our Dutch clients to join us for festive cocktails and amazing views at Amsterdam’s unique Skylounge bar.

The view from the SkyLounge

The view from the SkyLounge

Volkswagen emissions scandal fuels wider investigations

Automobile_exhaust_gas

Last week, we saw the news that Volkswagen is setting aside €6.5bn (£4.7bn) to cover costs of the rigged US car emissions tests scandal and faces potential fines estimated up to $18bn.The automotive sector is under fierce pressure from consumers and regulators. Regulatory authorities worldwide have launched over 100 investigations into the activities of car manufacturers and/or companies producing components used in car manufacture.

The importance of consumer confidence in the automotive industry remains so high that many spokespersons are calling for more investigations and the implications can be wide-ranging. Not only will automobile manufacturers themselves be at risk but investigations can also look into the activities of third parties and suppliers. Given the size of the industry, this represents a significant number of businesses placed under regulatory scrutiny.

What happens in an investigation?

Regulators will be looking for evidence of misconduct. In most cases, this evidence will be found within electronic and paper documents. Therefore, the first step in many investigations will be a dawn raid on a company’s premises where agents will seize electronic devices such as laptops, computers and phones as well as taking copies of data from servers and the Cloud. They may also take paper documents. The regulator will then examine this evidence as part of the investigation.

Be prepared

At this stage, companies involved in the automotive industry should consider their exposure to issues raised in the Volkswagen scandal (e.g.  methods of measuring fuel emissions) . Companies should also think in a wider context with regards to risk. For example, although a regulator may initially be investigating a specific issue, in this case regarding falsification of fuel emission reports, they will not turn a blind eye to other forms of misconduct. Investigations into one product or issue can unearth evidence of other issues which need to be investigated and potentially reported.

If a company thinks there is even a small risk of any kind of wrongdoing, we would advise taking precautionary measures sooner rather than later. As mentioned earlier, regulators may conduct an unannounced visit. They may also request the submission of large volumes of data with very short deadlines which can be very difficult to meet without expert help from a legal technology provider.

How can an ediscovery expert help?

Whether a company is proactively conducting an internal investigation or is undergoing a regulatory investigation, using an ediscovery provider can give an advantage by:

  1. Establishing what issues the company faces

Kroll Ontrack’s case managers and electronic evidence consultants are experts in assisting with regulatory investigations. Using advanced tools such as predictive coding, they can analyse emails, instant messages, and dozens of other types of office document. Any ‘hot documents’ or data custodians who are exhibiting suspicious behaviour can be quickly identified, allowing companies to take appropriate action in a timely manner.

  1. Identifying irregularities

Not all misconduct is uncovered in communications data such as email. Our structured data consultants are able to use analytics tools to examine financial, operational and transactional data to uncover irregularities that may otherwise be hiding behind big data.

  1. Collecting and preserving important evidence

Evidence is precious and inexpert handling can mean evidence is rejected in court (for example if original metadata was altered during collection). Kroll Ontrack’s digital forensics experts gather electronic evidence and materials in a forensically sound manner, ensuring all data collected is ready for use in an investigation.

We have data centres throughout the world and mobile solutions, meaning evidence can be stored securely and in accordance with data protection laws no matter where in the world it is located.

  1. Presenting project plans to the board, regulators or other relevant third parties

Consultancy is a key part of the service at Kroll Ontrack. Our legal consultants can provide advice and strategy to the board. We are also able to collaborate with regulators where necessary, often negotiating extensions to deadlines or a more favourable investigatory scope.

  1. Providing qualified lawyers and/or paralegals to conduct first level relevance reviews.

With tight deadlines and often specialist technical knowledge required, it can be difficult for law firms to assemble teams of document reviewers with the right skills to conduct document reviews. Kroll Ontrack retains a pool of high-calibre, multilingual document review lawyers with experience across all industrial sectors, ready to be deployed at very short notice.

 

 

About Rob Jones

Robert Jones is the manager of Kroll Ontrack’s team of Legal Consultants in Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa.