And now for something completely different

By | 25th May 2010

If you are a political junkie, the past few weeks have been exhilarating. Messrs Cleese, Idle, Palin et al could not have made it up!

In a few short days, we have moved from a tired, outdated, enfeebled ragbag of New Labour politicians with nothing but sarcasm and invective to offer to the first peace time coalition containing a Liberal politician for almost 90 years.

Like it or not, the electorate clearly decided that while they wanted to be rid of the Prince of Darkness (aka Lord Rumba of Rio), Brown, Balls and Harperson, they were not prepared to give untrammelled power to Cameron, Hague and Kitten Heels. What is more, they also decided that Cleggy and Cable were not the answer either. All that talk in the debates about the new wonder of British politics resulted in a net loss of 5 seats! A plague on the old parties was rightly rejected by the electorate, not least because the Liberals have been around for considerably longer than the Labour Party!

What has emerged is fascinating. Remember that the Prime Minister’s answer a few weeks ago to the question “What is your favourite joke?” had been “Nick Clegg”!

While I loved the embarrassment on Cameron’s face when reminded of his Clegg joke, I give little credence to attempts by the media to try and identify imaginary, growing rifts between the governing parties after only a few weeks in office. What sticks out a mile is that for the first time in my life we have a Government for which nearly 60% (17 million people) voted and which holds 56% of the seats. Who needs PR or a change in the voting system?

The news elsewhere in the world has been fast moving too. Now that the Liberal Democrats have given up gesture politics and offered something more concrete and relevant to our present problems, we are promised a Queen’s speech today which will be radically different from that which any of the three major Westminster parties had planned and an emergency budget in June which should set out a plan to get us out of the horrible mess bequeathed yet again by an outgoing Labour Government. Why do we keep on electing these people? Think of 1951, 1970 and 1979 and add 2010 to the mix!

Added to which we have the bail out of the Greek economy. Let’s hope that the Greeks are ultimately grateful but let’s also remember that the Eurozone countries have paid a high price to try and preserve the Greek economy and to prevent the euro project from collapse. If there is one thing for which I am prepared to give credit to Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, it is that they refused to join the euro. A currency union means that when a profligate member of the union runs out of credit, the rest have to stump up the cash. A good lesson for Europhiles to learn! We may have problems but at least we can sort them out ourselves. To hear German politicians demanding changes in Greek domestic policy in return for the cash must have sounded reminiscent of the Hitler years to some, but without the tanks.

And what about the notion that pagan police officers should be allowed religious holidays? Not a hint of irony there! If you missed the reports there is something called the Pagan Police Association which has won recognition from the Home Office as a Diversity Staff Support Association.

Honestly, if I had made this up, you would think that I had had one too many on the way home from work. But it is all true apparently!

If this is all bewildering to you, it is quite extraordinary to see that the world of e-discovery is moving at a terrific rate too. Since the beginning of May there have been four more cases of some note for lawyers to ponder. The thread running through each case is that the discovery was none too smart.

Each of these cases has been added to our expanding resources file to the right hand side of this blog under the heading “all you need to know”, but for those who are too busy or impatient to click and read, the cases to note are:

  1. Al Rawi v The Security Service and Others 2010 EWCA Civ 452.
    Al Rawi is a case arising out of the detention of Al Rawi at Guantanamo Bay and resulted in a refusal by the Court of Appeal to allow a closed material procedure trial thus overturning an earlier judgment of Mr Justice Silber. Broadly, the court refused the application by the Security Service that it be permitted to comply with its disclosure obligations and rely on the contents of the documents and the evidence without disclosing the material to the other parties.
  2. The collapse of the BA/Virgin prosecution for alleged price fixing.
    The press reported the collapse of the OFT prosecution of BA and Virgin who were accused of price fixing. A volume of emails on corrupted tapes had not been searched but when they had been they disclosed a smoking gun, namely an email which made it clear that Virgin had made a decision about raising ticket prices well before any initial contact had been made with BA.
  3. Fiddes v Channel 4 TV Corporation and Another
    The Fiddes case considered the proportionality of the cost of restoring back up tapes against the value of what might be recovered. The case concerned a visit by the family of the late Michael Jackson to Cornwall and a broadcast made at the time entitled “The Jacksons are coming”. Despite saying that they did not necessarily agree with the judge, the Court of Appeal declined to overturn the judgment of Mr Justice Tugendhat at first instance who had refused Mr Figgis’ application for specific disclosure in a libel action.
  4. Deutsche Bank AG v Chang Tse Wen 2010 SGHC 125
    I knew about this Singapore case only from reading Chris Dale’s blog and talking to a well known US e-Data lawyer last week. The case is worth noting because it shows that this subject is now truly international.

It really is becoming impossible for lawyers to treat the subject of e-disclosure as something  dreamed up by the Ministry of Silly Walks. It is much too important for that! While it is fun to write about other topical issues and allude to events I find interesting or amusing or downright silly, there is a serious message here. It is that electronic disclosure/discovery is now mainstream and that parties ignore consideration of it at their peril.

I am told that there are moves afoot to drop the “e” from e-Disclosure! It doesn’t come more mainstream than that!