E-discovery or ediscovery is the abbreviation used for Electronic Discovery. It is the process in which electronic data is handled towards using it as evidence in a legal case, be it civil or criminal.
E-discovery can be carried out offline on an isolated computer or in a network.
Many different electronic formats, also referred to as Electronically Stored Information (ESI) in e-discovery parlance, are sought in e-discovery. These ESI can be data sources such as email, documents and may also include:
- Social media information.
- Instant messaging chats.
- Data available in the organization network.
- Any other electronic data that could be relevant evidence in the lawsuit.
How is an e-discovery put into force in the legal process?
E-discovery is not an isolated individual action but is a process comprising many linked actions that begin when a lawsuit is foreseeable until the documents are presented in the Court.
As litigation gets reasonably foreseeable, the e-discovery process progresses as follows:
- Attorneys of both sides identify and put the ESI on legal hold.
- They then determine the scope of e-discovery, identify and preserve the relevant data and make e-discovery requests and challenges if required.
- Post this, ESI is collated, analyzed, and formatted for use in Court.
Why should e-discovery be priority for Organizations?
Any organization can run into legal situations wherein they may be asked by the Court of Law to share ESI in one or more specific types for the case. While, when such requirement may crop up in not foreseeable by anyone, the best an organization can do is to ensure that they have correctly configured e-discovery and data archiving methods in place.
The above shall facilitate them in putting on hold data that the Court of the law asked immediately as such a request is made, and ensure they can retain such information for as long as it is needed.
A failure in managing e-discovery can have severe implications for any organization. It is all the more the need of the hour in today’s Covid times and the future when, most of the judicial and federal courts across the world have switched to virtual hearings and judgments.
Best practices that Organizations should incorporate for successful e-discovery
If an organization wishes to address e-discovery, the key will lie in its ability to enterprise the management of records and information at its end while paying additional attention to control on handling potential e-discovery requests.
The following should be kept in mind by any organization planning to implement e-discovery effectively:
- Any information which does not have business value should be disposed of as per the defined policy in the course of regular business. This should be done to ensure there is no excess irrelevant data in the system, making the voluminous data ad any later evaluation time-consuming.
- Besides the above, every other information should be stored and maintained correctly under the organization’s complete control.
- As necessary, information and records should be stored once identified as per set nomenclature and classification scheme. This will help in effectively analyzing the data as and when needed.
- Data once saved can become irrelevant with time. Such data should be destroyed systematically and documented as per the set processes defined by the organization.
Following all of the above pointers shall ensure an effective e-discovery setup for the futuristic organizations opting for it.
Now when we are aware of what a boon e-discovery can be in today’s times, isn’t it worthwhile to start thinking on its lines?
A question worth pondering and taking action upon well within time for all Corporates!