Electronic evidence in Continental Europe
As the first of our series of webinars about the use of electronic evidence in Europe is about to start (Tuesday 30 April), I thought it would be a good time to say a few words on the subject. For our webinar series, we have been able to bring together a prestigious group of representatives of international companies and legal practitioners (along with our own e-discovery experts) to have an open discussion about how e-discovery technology is being used in Europe. Given the calibre of the speakers, the discussions are set to be highly informative, and I’m very pleased to be moderating this discussion.
Having worked in this business for over nine years, we are seeing a number of ways in which e-discovery technology is assisting our clients in Europe. Whilst the appetite for e-discovery technology here does not yet match that of the UK, or the US (the legal systems in Europe generally being of inquisitorial nature rather than adversarial) – electronic evidence still has an important part to play.
The main area in which we see the bulk of activity is (understandably due to the volume of documents involved) assisting clients to respond to EU competition investigations (both by local competition authorities and the European Commission). These require a rapid response rate and the requisite experience to put in place the right strategy to deliver the results required. However, in addition to responding to regulators, we have increasingly assisted companies to perform their own ‘internal audits’ in order to flush out any potential issues and deal with these (either through leniency applications to the authorities or even sometimes immunity) before any intervention by the authorities. Another separate angle for e-discovery is that with the proliferation of different modes of communication in use today, from use of personal devices (iPads, iPods, Android phones and tablets) but also messaging systems (Reuters, Bloomberg, Instant Messenger, etc), companies and law firms can benefit from the proper management of electronic evidence – whether this is helping to prevent theft of intellectual property, finding a key piece of evidence that supports your case, or simply checking that the business is running as it should.
Navigating the complex data protection laws in Europe when moving data across borders can prove challenging, but there are always practical approaches that can be adopted to overcome these obstacles.
I’m proud to say that our European team is growing, and that our new member, James Farnell, joins us a Legal Consultant for Continental Europe. James is a UK qualified solicitor and will initially be working with us in Brussels and the Nordics.
I hope you can join us next week for the start of our European webinars series, Staying a Step Ahead of the Regulators, and will look forward to updating you on my next post.