Since 1 October 2010, a new Practice Direction 31B and Electronic Documents Questionnaire has applied to the disclosure of electronic documents in multi-track cases commenced in the High Court on or after that date. This has been a long time in development. Parties to litigation did not always follow the previous rules on e-disclosure, and so the new PD has been introduced in order to set out a more detailed and structured approach. In particular, it was introduced with the purpose of holding back the spiralling costs of e-disclosure in litigation by instructing parties to consider approaches such as:

  • Considering the ease and expense of recovering documents stored on back-up systems, or which had been deleted  
  • The use of keyword searches or other automated approaches if a full search of all documents would be unreasonable.  

Questions remain as to the extent to which the courts will have regard to this new PD in cases which were commenced before October 2010, or fast track cases in which e-disclosure is relevant.