Discovery is the term used for the initial phase of litigation where the parties in a dispute are required to provide each other relevant information and records, along with all other evidence related to the case.
What is e-Discovery?
Discovery is the term used for the initial phase of litigation where the parties in a dispute are required to provide each other relevant information and records, along with all other evidence related to the case. In 2006 amendments to the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, codified the requirement to provide electronic information and records, referred to as electronically stored information (ESI). These changes brought about the term eDiscovery or Electronic Discovery and includes all electronic information which would include:
- Word documents
- Audio and video
The effort to comply to an eDiscovery request is often time-consuming and expensive due to the volume of information and records created and stored in electronic form, typically throughout the enterprise in an unstructured manner on network drives, personal computers and PDAs.
The key to addressing eDiscovery is to be proactive in the management of information and records with control over the handling of potential e-discovery requests. Records management professionals must work with the legal staff and IT to develop a records management program that will support eDiscovery efforts. Records management policies and procedures must be developed, establishing a strong records management discipline among employees in managing their information and records. This policy should stress that
- Information without business value must be disposed of according to policy and in the normal course of business
- Records that have value to the organization must be stored and managed properly, under the control of the organization
- A classification scheme providing an information and records management structure must be implemented for consistency and control
- Records that are no longer needed must be destroyed in a systematic and documented way
eDiscovery applications and technology enable organizations to pull information and records from the massive volumes spanning an enterprise, including emails and eliminate exact copies to reduce the effort and cost of reviewing the remaining content. This can also be costly and time consuming so the best practice is to be prepared before you have to act. The costs and management of eDiscovery actions can be lowered and managed more effectively through a sound records management program and the use of Electronic Records Management (ERM) systems.