U.K. Practice Direction 31B - Disclosure of Electronic Documents

The Ministry of Justice of the United Kingdom has issued Practice Direction 31B on the Disclosure of Electronic Documents, which addresses the preservation of 'electronic documents'; when a reasonable search has been performed; the disclosure of metadata; and other electronic discovery issues. In some respects, UK's rules will look familiar to America litigators, as they state that clients must be notified of the need to preserve documents as soon as litigation is contemplated.


However, the Practice Directive also goes into some detail which American e-discovery specialists may find interesting. There is a reminder that document management systems may associate metadata with documents that will not be stored in those documents.


Most notably, it includes an Electronic Documents Questionnaire which has 23 points for parties to consider. Some questions are obvious ones, such as asking for a date range and custodians to be specified. Others will prompt counsel to go into detail which may be commonly overlooked by American lawyers. Question # 7 is on 'automated searches' and asks the parties to disclose if they used clustering or concept searching, and discuss the methodology used for such searching.


The form of the Electronic Documents Questionnaire helps parties to organize their discussion: