The Sedona Conference has released a draft document that’s a product of the Sedona Conference Working Group 7 (Sedona Canada), entitled “The Sedona Principles: Addressing Electronic Document Production, Canadian Edition.” [PDF]
From the preface:
Working Group 7, “Sedona Canada,” was formed out of the growing recognition that the discovery of electronically stored information can no longer be seen as a peculiarity of litigation in the United States or limited to complex commercial lawsuits in Ontario and British Columbia. It is quickly becoming a factor in all Canadian civil litigation, large and small. It requires universal understanding by the Canadian bar and a common approach rooted in proportionality and reasonableness, with respect for variations in local rules and practices. We hope that the principles and commentary that follow will be of immediate benefit to the bench and bar as they approach this cutting-edge intersection of law and information technology. It is our expectation that Sedona Canada will benefit greatly from the public comment process.
The paper presents a primer on electronic documents and offers 12 principles it feels should govern electronic discovery, along with extensive explanation and commentary. The dozen are simply listed here:
- Electronically stored information is discoverable.
- In any proceeding, the parties should ensure that steps taken in the discovery process are proportionate, taking into account (i) the nature and scope of the litigation, including the importance and complexity of the issues, interest and amounts at stake; (ii) the relevance of the available electronically stored information; (iii) its importance to the court’s adjudication in a given case; and (iv) the costs, burden and delay that may be imposed on the parties to deal with electronically stored information.
- Counsel and parties should meet and confer as soon as practicable and on an ongoing basis, regarding the identification, preservation, collection, review and production of electronically stored information.
- As soon as litigation is reasonably anticipated, parties must consider their obligation to take reasonable and good faith steps to preserve potentially relevant electronically stored information.
- The parties should be prepared to disclose all relevant electronically stored information that is reasonably accessible in terms of cost and burden.
- A party should not be required, absent agreement or a court order based on demonstrated need and relevance, to search for or collect deleted or residual electronically stored information.
- A party may satisfy its obligation to identify electronically stored information in good faith by using electronic tools and processes such as data sampling, searching and/or the use of selection criteria to collect potentially relevant electronically stored information.
- Parties should agree as early as possible in the litigation process on the format in which electronically stored information will be produced. Parties should also agree on the format, content and organization of information to be exchanged in any required list of documents as part of the discovery process.
- During the discovery process parties should agree to, or if necessary, seek judicial direction on, measures to protect privileges, privacy, trade secrets and other confidential information relating to the production of electronic documents and data.
- During the discovery process, parties should anticipate and respect the rules of the forum in which the litigation takes place, while appreciating the impact any decisions may have in related actions in other forums.
- Sanctions should be considered by the court where a party will be materially prejudiced by another party’s failure to meet any obligation to preserve, collect, review or produce electronically stored information. The party in default may avoid sanctions if it demonstrates the failure was not intentional or reckless.
- The reasonable costs of preserving, collecting and reviewing electronically stored information will be borne by the party producing it. In limited circumstances, it may be appropriate for the parties to arrive at a different allocation of costs on an interim basis, by either agreement or court order.
[Tip of the topper to Peg Duncan, a member of the high-powered WG7.]