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Law of Evidence Regarding E-Discovery

The different types of e-discovery in an overview context

In legal terms, electronic discovery, often known as eDiscovery, refers to discovery in which the material sought is in digital format. This kind of data is often referred to as electronically stored information, or ESI. ESI differs from paper information in that it has an intangible form, is persistent, is transient, and has a large amount of data. Metadata is frequently included with electronic documents, and it may play a major part in the evidence-gathering process. This is another significant distinction between electronic documents and traditional ones. Safeguarding metadata from electronic documents in order to avoid spoliation introduces unique eDiscovery issues that must be addressed. The use of electronic discovery (eDiscovery) is becoming more common in government investigations, different areas of civil litigation, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the United States. Since 2006, eDiscovery requests in the United States have been governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), as well as specific state rules in select cases. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were modified on December 1, 2015, primarily to improve the way eDiscovery is handled. Some other states and localities have eDiscovery regulations, which include Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules in areas of the Uk, Australia’s Freedom of Information Act 1982, Canada’s Access to Information Act, Denmark’s Availability to Public Administration Files Act of 1985, Finland’s Act on the Inclusivity of Public Documents, and overall access to information laws in France, Germany, and other EU countries. The Aarhus Conventions, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the General Data Protection Regulation are all applicable to countries in Europe, and each of them may have an impact on access to information in the country concerned.

Forensic electronic discovery The jurisdictional rules (procedural and ethical) that are on point with e-discovery in your jurisdiction

It is the obligation of the parties who are putting together the evidence to locate and gather evidence that is both significant to the allegations and defenses being advanced and commensurate to those requirements. A lawyer’s advice is critical in implementing this requirement in the ESI environment. Attorneys who aren’t acquainted with e-discovery methods and technology should either learn them or hire someone who is. It’s not enough to know the official regulations. The greatest outcomes are achieved when the parties are made aware of ESI early in the process and discuss any difficulties with their opponents, including getting assistance from competent third parties if they lack the competence and experience to deal with it. It is the responsibility of both the asking and producing parties and the courts to work together to ensure that requests and objections are made in a manner that is suitable to the matter at hand (Smith et al., 2013). The quality of the discovery process may be greatly improved by promptly serving requests for production and discussing openly the scope and nature of the costs and burdens and other proportionality variables connected with conformity with discovery demands. The identification of the key custodians from whom the data will be gathered is a crucial variable. The volume of output and the manner in which it is handled will be determined by the number of such custodians and the need of consulting or obtaining production from other parties.

Consequences of poor management of e-discovery, including but not limited to spoilage

The geographical space of ESI examined in eDiscovery is not always straightforward to determine due to the extensive usage of cloud computing and other online storage types. An email or text message may go via any amount of phone lines and routers, to any number of servers and client devices throughout the world, making it almost difficult to pinpoint the exact location of a communication. There are so many rules on eDiscovery in different countries that it may be tough to know which ones to follow and which ones are best left to the experts. eDiscovery outside of the United States is substantially more expensive than eDiscovery here in the United States because of the added difficulty and the legal limits imposed by other nations. There are a variety of rules and regulations in each country regarding electronic data and discovery techniques, so it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with those laws and regulations before going further. Even in the United States, routine discovery methods may be illegal in other nations. Knowing the laws and regulations you’ll be up against is crucial. Foreign nations may have differing perspectives on privacy, making it challenging to justify the necessity for eDiscovery to such governments. A request for eDiscovery in a nation where pretrial discovery is not the norm might lead to misunderstood requests and non-compliance. It is essential for a foreign eDiscovery attorney to have an in-depth understanding of American law and practices.

Best practices to conform with state procedural and ethics rules that can be implemented in your office for proper records management and maintenance

The Rule of Professional Responsibility 3.4, entitled “Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel,” has the most impact on the subject of electronic data preservation since it is the most immediately applicable. R. 3.4 of the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct (2003). Lawyers must also take care to ensure that they are familiar with the version of the rules that apply in each state in which they practice, since several jurisdictions have adopted modified versions of the American Bar Association standards. The following is stated in Rule 3.4(a): “A lawyer may not illegally prevent another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully modify, delete, or hide a document or other material that has the potential to be used as evidence in a legal proceeding. A lawyer is not permitted to advise or aid another individual in engaging in any such conduct.” The following relevant advice is provided in the rule’s comment section addressing the rule’s purpose and scope (Legal Information Institute, 2018). Generally speaking, under the adversarial system, evidence in a case will be marshaled by the competing parties against one another in a competitive environment. Protection against unfair competition in the adversarial system is provided through restrictions against the demolition or concealing of evidence, illegally manipulating witnesses, and disruptive tactics in the discovery stage, among other things. Documents and other pieces of evidence are often required in order to establish a claim or defend against one. The right of an opposing party, such as the government, to seek evidence by discovery or subpoena, subject to evidentiary privileges, is a significant procedural right. If the relevant material is changed, obscured, or destroyed, the exercise of that right may be hampered or even prevented. In many countries, it is illegal to delete information with the intent of impeding its availability in an ongoing process or one whose initiation may be predicted under the applicable legislation.

The role of all who will be involved in the e-discovery process, including but not limited to the paralegal, the attorney, and the IT department.

Documents should be requested in native format from opposing counsel or the client, taking into account whatever programs are being used. Electronically stored information, or ESI, is a common abbreviation for this. The term “native format” refers to electronic material in its original format, such as email, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, QuickBooks data, Adobe documents, etc. Cell phones and voicemails are only two of the many technological communication methods that are regularly utilized nowadays. A lot of organizations have IT experts who can help you figure out what information they can supply, especially if they use specific software (Drew, 2018). With the help of the attorney, paralegal, and IT specialists, it is ideal to identify the information necessary for a specific case. There are a number of ways in which this might assist you narrow the scope of the information you want from the parties often referred to as “custodians. It is also a good idea to choose precise search phrases in order to narrow down the information you are looking for. There comes a point in a dispute when both sides must come up with an agreement on how the information will be shared. There is a lot of demand for litigation eDiscovery software right now. You may choose from a range of providers, price structures, and software options that can help you keep track of your papers and respond to requests for them. Some of you may be employed by a business that already makes use of and has processes in place for eDiscovery software. Everyone will benefit from your assistance with research and price, as well as attending demos, if you don’t already. In many cases, you will be using the software platform, so having your feedback is a huge plus. In the eDiscovery process, lawyers are depending more than ever on their paralegals. Document review is the most critical role that a paralegal may perform. To be clear: Attorneys must inform you in detail whether a piece of evidence is relevant or not. Attorneys often ask you to carefully review the discovery requests and only submit documents that are obviously relevant to the matter at hand.

Conclude by making suggestions for a firm policy on the use of e-discovery

When it comes to employee computer usage in the office, Acceptable Use regulations are a good place to start. A company’s mobile device policy should cover everything an employee uses to conduct business on behalf of the company. This includes laptops owned by the company, smartphones, cameras, networking equipment, and software. It should also cover all electronic communications, such as email, text messages, and instant messages. Company-owned technology may be used by employees to participate in labor activities that are protected by the National Labor Relations Act and other federal or state laws, but the policy must inform them that notwithstanding these rights, the technology can only be used for commercial reasons. Password and email rules might be included in the acceptable usage policy, or they can be separate policies. Policies and practices must be implemented by certain firms as a matter of law. Medical practitioners and investment firms, for instance, must create methods that comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Acts. It is essential for companies that permit employees to use their personal mobile devices for work purposes to implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. As a prerequisite to using a personal device at work, the policy should specify which workers and positions are authorized to do so, as well as whether or not the device requires IT permission and whether or not it is compatible with the company’s IT systems. The IT department is responsible for setting up virus protection on the device, and the employee is responsible for any data loss that occurs as a result. An hourly employee’s wage and hour concerns should also be taken into consideration by the company. Finally, the employee must sign a user agreement acknowledging the terms and conditions of usage.

Paper and electronic documents must be kept for a predetermined period of time before they can be destroyed. It is determined by the length of time required by federal and state law as well as business and litigation wants that certain types of documents, like tax, human resources, health coverage, and information captured are kept.


Drew, T. (2018). Ethical Obligations in Electronic Discovery. American BAr.

Legal Information Institute. (2018). Rule 502. Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product; Limitations on Waiver. LII / Legal Information Institute.

Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. (2013, February 1). E-Discovery: The Federal Rules in the Digital Age. SGR Law.


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