Witness statements are likely to be the next focus for reform after disclosure, the new president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association has predicted. Julian Acratopulo, head of international commercial litigation at Clifford Chance, said that, like disclosure, both lawyers and the judiciary were ready to reconsider the current system.
The City law firm that won the first contested application to use predictive coding as part of a substantial document review exercise has proclaimed the exercise a success and a precursor to its wider use after its client won.
The Law Society has warned that radical disclosure reforms, due to be piloted in the Business and Property Courts this autumn, could lead to important documents not coming to light and “increase the risk of miscarriages of justice”.
Professional negligence claims will become harder to handle under the new approach to disclosure which will be piloted later this year in the Business & Property Courts, particularly for defendants, a barrister has warned. She identified front-loading of costs, imbalance between the parties, and disclosure of adverse documents as potential problems.
An attempt to claim litigation privilege by global mining and commodities giant Glencore, in a case where it was not the party to proceedings, has been rejected by the High Court. It said there was no authority for the proposition that “a person controlling litigation can assert litigation privilege against a party which it is controlling and who is the party to the proceedings”.
A High Court judge has ordered a manual search of tens of thousands of documents in a $65m breach of warranty case because of concerns over the claimants’ approach to computer-assisted review. Mr Justice Coulson said disclosure had been “something of a running sore in this case”.
A “wholesale cultural change” in the approach to disclosure in the Business and Property Courts is needed, a judiciary-led working group has said, which will be brought about by a completely new rule and guidelines applying to the majority of cases. These will be tested in a two-year pilot to run in major courts across the country.
The High Court has granted an injunction against a party that was well aware that a document it was using was a privileged letter accidentally disclosed by the other side. The claimant was advised by a non-solicitor insolvency specialist, but the court said the test was whether it was obvious to a reasonable solicitor that a mistake had been made.