Fantastic voyage of e-discovery

By | 9th December 2009

The world of e-discovery is full of surprises. After leaving private practice I never dreamed that I would be transported to the snowy steppes of Russia. This is a bit of an exaggeration, I admit, but I found myself recently at a reception in the Reform Club given by the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. Standing, listening to the short speech given by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, I reflected that 90 years was as yesterday as I observed how extraordinarily like the photographs of Tsar Nicholas 11, his descendant actually is. It was like having a Romanov in the room.

I was lucky enough later on to be introduced to the main speaker of the evening, Anatoly Chubais, formerly First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation under Presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin, and now CEO of Rusnano, a state investment company with the brief to increase the income from nanotechnology industries in Russia to $30 million annually by 2015.

Modernisation was the theme of Mr Chubais’ talk. Modernisation of institutions, technical regulations, civil law, tax and corporate governance. He has quite a task ahead of him, as some of the speakers from the floor pointed out at question time but he answered all the questions with good humour and gave us a fascinating insight into the Russian Government’s struggle to build on only 18 years of capitalism.

When I spoke to him, we talked about the need for western investors to feel comfortable about their legal rights in Russia relating to such things as a forum for swift and fair resolution of disputes, the ability to enforce judgements and the free movement of capital and profits. There is much to be done in these areas but it is encouraging that someone like Mr Chubais acknowledges the problems. That is at least part of the way to solving some of them.

This was not the time to talk to a former PM of Russia about Smart e-Discovery! However, I was pleased that our experience of handling a wide variety of cases in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union had led me to meet one of its former leaders and the man now in charge of a company which is already an important investor in new technologies.

I am not sure how many readers are familiar with the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage. The flight of fantasy then placed filmstar and global pin up Raquel Welch in a tiny submarine which was injected into the blood stream of a patient in a desperate attempt to save his life. Mr Chubais told us about a medical procedure which delivers chemicals to the very cells which cause cancer and by non invasive means destroys them and in the process cures the patient. I am sure the nano-vehicle involved will not feature Miss Welch (more’s the pity) but this struck me as an amazing development, which, when it is fully developed, offers real hope to cancer sufferers and presumably to others who suffer from debilitating diseases where the cure is worse than the disease because of the effect on the human body.

The wonders of technology all the way from the Romanovs to the Reform Club!