Document review is hugely relevant in this instance because with electronic documents we are referring to much larger volumes. For example the collection of data from an individual (a custodian) who has a laptop or PC as well as a portable device could potentially amount to 15 gigabytes of data. Experience tells us that this could be almost 100,000 documents and therefore if there were, for example, 5 relevant custodians we could be anticipating upwards of half a million documents. It is simply not possible to perform an eyes on review of this many documents in an efficient manner particularly when time is of the essence..
Firstly, by using eDiscovery technology, duplicates can be removed; similar documents can be grouped together; and documents falling only within a certain date range can be combined. Already this will reduce the total number of documents markedly. . Careful identification of key words that are important within the case and applying those words to the collection will produce only documents containing those words i.e. the relevant documents. Beyond keyword searching we have a number of intelligent technological tools available to us now. We can perform concept searching whereby the software is “taught” or informed of what concept you are referring to when a word has more than one meaning e.g diamond could relate to mining but also could relate to jewellery. Then there is predictive coding or technology assisted review whereby one person, usually the lawyer who is heading the case and knows it best, reviews a small number of documents for relevance and these are then applied to the complete collection in order to identify similar documents based upon the thought processes of the reviewer.
All of the above serve as examples of what can be achieved utilising a sound hosting platform designed specifically for the litigation, investigation and competition markets. The system reduces the number of actual documents requiring that traditional “eyes on” review and potentially results in saving time and money. Thereafter, the same software assists in the Discovery process by exporting only those documents which need to be discovered along with an electronic list in accordance with the Rules.
Of course, many cases still have paper documents as part of the collection. With the tools and technology available this paper becomes part of eDiscovery because technology transforms it into images to be dealt with exactly as described as above. We scan, OCR (to make the text searchable), then unitise and code the electronic images of the hard copy documents. Unitisation and coding are processes whereby the beginning and end of each document is determined and important fields of information are captured in respect of every document. Fields such as; author, recipient, date of the document; type of document, and the subject of the document. Capturing these fields allows for intelligent searching within the hosting platform as described above for electronic data. Next Generation Forensic needs to integrate with the increasing reliance and dependency on data and electronic communications. This necessitates enhanced approaches based on effectively leveraging technology based solutions aimed at improving efficiency. The relevance of eDiscovery extends beyond litigation requirements and is applicable to both the investigations and competition related environments.
This is technology’s answer to dealing with Discovery in today’s world – eDiscovery
Author – Waseema Harrison – Senior Manager, Risk Advisory
Director, Risk Advisory: Forensic
Tel: +27 11 209 8275
Connect with Clayton on LinkedIn https://za.linkedin.com/pub/clayton-thomopoulos/55/847/868