The Supreme Court has developed a practice direction to provide guidance
to the legal profession and the public regarding the preparation, management
and presentation of electronic evidence. This practice direction was developed
after extensive consultation with members of the profession representing
law firms of all sizes, sole practitioners and litigation support professionals.
The practice direction deals with the problem of the exchange of incompatible
electronic data between parties to a proceeding. Incompatible data results
in increased costs and duplication of effort as receiving parties are
required to manipulate data before being able to use it. The practice
direction establishes a default standard or framework for document exchange.
This default standard represents the lowest common denominator for electronic
databases which means that a party is not required to use sophisticated
litigation support software in order to exchange electronic documents.
In addition, the practice direction expressly provides that parties are
free to depart from the default standard if they can agree, but in the
absence of an agreement, the default standard exists.
The purpose of the practice direction is to get parties considering and
addressing the issue of electronic evidence management and exchange as
early in the litigation process as possible in order to avoid, as much
as possible, duplication of effort with its consequential waste of time
and resources. If the issues presented by electronic evidence are not
addressed at an early stage in a proceeding, costs of litigation will
continue to rise beyond the reach of most litigants and our justice system
will be increasingly unable to remain open and accessible to all.
If you have questions or comments about the practice direction, please
email the eCourt Coordinator