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Patrick Collins

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Patrick Collins

Patrick Collins

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  • 1. Managing Discovery: discovery of documents in federal courts Patrick Collins Senior Legal Officer
  • 2. The Hon R McClelland MP Attorney-General Terms of Reference The Commission’s objective is to identify law reform options to improve the practical operation and effectiveness of discovery of documents
  • 3.
  • 4. ‘… bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters’ reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them’. Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1852)
  • 5. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) French novelist, critic, and essayist
  • 6. The trigger for review ‘ The cost of discovery continues to be very high, and often disproportionate to the role played by discovered documents in resolving disputes.’ Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, Access to Justice Taskforce, A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System (2009)
  • 7. Other activity ‘ Procedures and costs should be proportionate to the nature of the issues involved.’ R Jackson, Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report (2009)
  • 8. Other activity
    • Victorian Law Reform Commission, Civil Justice Review , Report 14 (2008)
    • British Columbia Justice Review Task Force, Civil Justice Reform Working Group, Effective and Affordable Civil Justice: Report of the Civil Justice Reform Working Group to the Justice Review Task Force (2006)
    • Chief Justice’s Working Party on Civil Justice Reform (Hong Kong), Civil Justice Reform: Final Report (2004)
    • Lord Woolf, Access to Justice: Final Report (1996)
  • 9. Evidence-based law reform
    • ‘ Deprecation of the legal system and failed efforts at reform often proceed on the basis of anecdote and assumption.’
    • Australian Law Reform Commission, Managing Justice: A Review of the Civil Justice System , Report 89 (2000)
  • 10. Evidence-based law reform Empirical analysis
    • Discover costs in proportion to:
      • total litigation expense
      • value of what is at stake
      • range and complexity of issues
  • 11. Evidence-based law reform
    • Utility of discovery documents in:
      • narrowing the issues in dispute
      • encouraging settlement of disputes
      • judicial determination of disputes
    Qualitative research
  • 12. Evidence-based law reform e-newsletters e-newsletters Community consultations
    • Face-to-face meeting
    • Teleconference
    • Blog
    • E-newsletter
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. Appointed experts Advisory Committee
    • Robert Alexander, General Counsel, ACCC
    • Dr Peter Cashman, Director, Social Justice Program, University of Sydney
    • Stuart Clark, Chief Operating Officer, Clayton Utz
    • The Hon Justice Ray Finkelstein, Federal Court of Australia
    • David Gaszner, Thomsons Lawyers
    • Sue Laver, General Counsel, Telstra
    • Catherine Leslie, Special Counsel Tax Litigation, AGS
    • The Hon Kevin Lindgren QC, formerly a judge of the Federal Court of Australia
    • Bernard Murphy, Maurice Blackburn
    • Professor Les McCrimmon, School of Law and Business, Darwin University
    • Professor Christine Parker, Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne
    • Matt Minogue, First Assistant Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
  • 16. Appointed experts Part-time Commissioners The Hon. Justice Arthur Emmett The Hon. Justice Bruce Lander The Hon. Justice Susan Kenny The Hon. Justice Berna Collier
  • 17. Evaluating discovery rationale
    • fact-finding
    fairness to the parties decision-making ‘ Discovery helps to ensure that parties in the adversarial process can proceed on an equal footing and without ambush, and that relevant materials are before the court’. Australian Government Solicitor, Submission DR 27 , 11 February 2011
  • 18.
    • A
    Judicial case management Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 Part VB—Case management in civil proceedings 37M The overarching purpose of civil practice and procedure provisions (1) The overarching purpose of the civil practice and procedure provisions is to facilitate the just resolution of disputes: (a) according to law; and (b) as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible. ... (3) The civil practice and procedure provisions must be interpreted and applied, and any power conferred or duty imposed by them (including the power to make Rules of Court) must be exercised or carried out, in the way that best promotes the overarching purpose.
  • 19. Discovery in mega-litigation The breadth and complexity of issues disputed in mega-litigation set broad boundaries for the discovery of documents.
  • 20. Information management Betfair v Racing NSW The records of over 2.5 million customers occupied some 21 terabytes of memory, growing at 70 gigabytes per day.
  • 21. Seven Network Limited v News Limited [2007] FCA 1062 ...borders on the scandalous! The parties spent about $200 million on legal costs. Seven’s damages claim was between $195 and $212 million. Some stakeholders estimated that discovery costs are typically around 20% of legal costs.
  • 22. Discovery Costs: A Barrier to Justice the just resolution of disputes according to law as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible
  • 23. Competing tensions requesting party vs discovering party right to present the case time and money client vs lawyer duty to client duty to court parties vs court more active judges more information about the case
  • 24. Limiting discovery to crucial issues in dispute
    • Preparing a list of issues, in order of importance
    • Outlining crucial issues at an initial directions hearing
    • Outlining the evidence on which the parties will rely at trial
  • 25. Practical discovery plan
    • Practice Note CM 6: Electronic Technology in Litigation
    • parties to discuss and agree upon a practical and cost-effective discovery plan
  • 26. Judicial scrutiny of discovery
    • Federal Court Rules
    • ...discovery only if it is necessary for the just determination of issues in the proceeding.
  • 27. Judicial case management powers
    • Costs powers:
    • upfront payment of estimated discovery costs
    • Discovery masters:
    • appointed by the court to report on managing discovery
  • 28. Judicial education
    • Training in e-discovery technology
  • 29. Electronic Document Management Systems
  • 30. For information about ALRC work, copies of speeches and presentations
    • ALRC website – all papers available online (free):
    • www.alrc.gov.au
    • Email: [email_address]
    • GPO Box 3708, Sydney 2001