Monthly Archives: July 2013

Information overload

Everywhere you look, information is being created.

What is more, that information is being stored, often inadvertently. When the time comes for that information to be accessed and retrieved/managed, perhaps because of litigation, a subject access request, internal investigation or regulatory inquiry, many companies find themselves in real difficulty.

Big Data, BYOD, social media and an array of gadgets and devices for sending, retrieving and storing data, means that everyone today handles more information than ever before. Much of it will never be looked at again, but some of it will and that is what creates the problem for the litigator and the client. It is all very well saying that your data is stored in the cloud. Where is the cloud? Your data is still on a server somewhere. Where is it and how accessible is it when you want it? The answers to these basic questions  may well present you with a problem.

In Data in a Crisis-Manage Your Risk Kingsley Napley lawyer, Caroline Jan, a specialist in commercial litigation and fraud investigations addresses these concerns in her recent article in the June/July edition of Computers & Law published by the Society for Computers & Law

Caroline concludes that while it is likely to be impossible to eliminate every risk involving the retention, management, storage and subsequent retrieval of information, it is definitely possible to reduce, mitigate and manage the risks, thereby limiting possible financial or reputational damage if a crisis occurs.

The general point here is that while no one likes the idea of litigation or regulatory investigation, it just does not do to be caught unaware. The wise virgins will have put time and thought, and a little bit of money too, into installing systems which enable them to access the relevant information when they need to.

Foolish virgins continue to bury their heads in the sand.

Which type of organisation do you want to be part of when the time comes?

PS. The problem recently encountered emailing subscribers with notice of new posts appears to have been solved. Thank you for your patience.


Recently I have encountered problems with aspects of the blog.

One that causes me concern is the apparent inability to notify subscribers of a new post. This normally happens automatically via WordPress provided I remember to uncheck the relevant box but is currently not happening.

My last post on July 23rd, False Positives, is a case in point.

This post is by way of a test post to see if I have corrected the problem. Please bear with me!

Thank you.

False positives

 I am reliably informed that in the Government’s same sex marriage bill currently before Parliament, each one of us is to be allowed to be a husband or a wife depending on how we feel.

In an effort to clarify the terms “husband” and “wife” the bill states that “husband” will “include a man or a woman in a same sex marriage as well as a man married to a woman.”

Additionally, the term “husband” will, in future legislation, include a man who is married to another man (but not a woman in a marriage with another woman.) “Wife” will include a woman who is married to another woman (but not a man married to another man), unless specific alternative provision is made.

Ignoring the seeming absurdity of the language placed before the Mother of Parliaments (I hope I may still call her that!), it is to be hoped that the technology industry will be able to cope.

Predictive coding technology, for example, exists to make it easier to search through and discard unwanted or irrelevant documents by looking at the text and learning from the lawyers’ instructions what they want to keep.

Humpty Dumpty said ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

My fear is just that.

If we start changing the language to say that words which previously had one meaning will, in future, have another and potentially opposite meaning, we run the risk of an increased number of false positives.

How will the technology industry cope with that, I wonder?



The TV series Mission:Impossible began with the team receiving a tape starting with the words: “Your mission,…. should you decide to accept it…”, followed by a brief description of the problem to be solved.

Famously, the sequence ended with the words “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck……”  and then smoke would rise from the tape, and the instructions would be destroyed.

The longevity of the series was boosted by the film franchise starring Tom Cruise.

While the US built a stealth bomber some years ago, the world had to wait for Harry Potter before we progressed to the invisibility cloak. Now J K Rowling’s imagination has become reality, judging by an item on Radio 4’s Today programme on July 2nd and carried in The DailyTelegraph which reported on the award by the Institute of Physics of the Isaac Newton medal to Professor Sir John Pendry for his work on “making things invisible” (my italics).

In the world of e-discovery, I have learned that nothing should surprise me. In fact, I am often delighted by what I find, so I was intrigued to see an item in Information Week entitled “This Email will self-destruct: A T & T seek patent.” Continue reading

Hang a shingle

My guess is that while most US readers will know what I am talking about, most readers this side of the Atlantic will not have a clue!

Let me start with an uncontroversial suggestion that, in order to act in the best interests of clients and comply with their ethical obligations and those imposed by statute or legislation/rules, lawyers today need a modicum of understanding of and familiarity with technology.

If you are with me so far, you will not be surprised to hear that at least one general counsel makes his lawyers undergo technical audits before hiring them. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at  Kia Motors America admits that no one has yet passed his tests. So what does he do? Continue reading

Not me!

We all have our pet hates.

Yours may be completely different from mine, but we all have views about things and people around us. It is part of being human and being capable of rational and, let’s be honest, also irrational thought.

One of my pet hates is the unnecessary and unthinking use of jargon where perfectly sensible and easily intelligible descriptions exist. For example, one of the most persistent offenders in my view is Network Rail whose public announcements use the word “alight” when they mean to get off and the word “inclement” (weather) when they mean poor, bad or wet!! Be honest, who else uses “alight” and “inclement”?

I am sure you are thinking this is a bit rich coming from a lawyer, as lawyers are generally thought to comprise a group particularly prone to the use of jargon, and I would not attempt to dissuade you. Continue reading

Social media and the President of the Pipe Club of Japan

Some time back, while researching the subject matter for an article I wanted to write, I came across a piece written by a lawyer in Tennessee. Isn’t the internet wonderful?

It was clearly a scholarly and well researched article ( [The Duty to Preserve: Victor Stanley and its Progeny, ABA Section of Litigation Trial Evidence Committee, 30th June, 2011] and appeared in the Newsletter of the American Bar Association. Having given credit where it was definitely due, I included references to the article in my own composition, Spoiling the Party, published in July 2011, almost exactly two years ago to the day.

It was only a little later that I thought to send a link to the author of the article!! I am glad I did, as you will see.

If you blog or tweet or are an addict of any form of social media you will know that by referring to what others have said or written serves to circulate your views and theirs around the globe, thereby gaining publicity for both of you in a way and at a speed of which our predecessors can only have dreamed! Continue reading

Get fit

If you are staying abreast of the development of best practice after the coming into effect of the Jackson reforms, you are presumably following the series of articles by the indefatigable Judge Simon Brown QC, head of the Mercantile Court in Birmingham.

Simon Brown has written a number of articles on the subject which have been published in the New Law Journal (NLJ).

One of the good points of the NLJ series is that if you miss an article you can always catch up with the series by following the links printed at the foot of the article you are reading. In that way you do not miss out on the practical tips given by one of the leading proponents of and practitioners in the new rules.

The latest article is called “Getting active!” and concerns costs management. If you read no other article on this subject, this is a must. Continue reading


One hundred and sixty million.

Occasionally, I find that, when following the news a fraction more closely than normal, I discover what might be described as coincidences.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed the figure of 160 million cropping up on more than one occasion. It is not a figure like a dozen which is often bandied about when the speaker means any number between about six and twenty. It is far too big and far too specific for that. It is certainly a nice round figure but it is not one which you readily pull out of the recesses of your mind when you are stuck for a figure to describe something gi-normous.

The first instance I want to draw to your attention is really two in one. Continue reading

Super Moon

Many of us will have been thrilled to see an astronomical phenomenon in recent days. Did the moon seem to you to be bigger and brighter recently? Sadly, many of us will also have shrugged our shoulders and asked “What moon?” because in this fine summer of 2013, the skies over the UK have been largely cloudy thus obscuring one of the best shows on earth when the moon reaches its perigee. Missed it? Well do not be downhearted because there is a rerun in 2014, weather permitting. Continue reading