Ein Artikel aus dem Economist zeigt anhand eines Falles wie die boomende e-Discovery Industrie in den USA ihre Kunden abzockt. Da gibt es doch ein paar Fragezeichen, die einen Kommentar verdienen.

Economist online Quelle

Kommentar von B. Wildhaber (KRM):

Obwohl die Kollegen in den USA über einige sehr gute Instrumente verfügen, um an die relevanten Beweiserhebungsdaten zu gelangen, scheinen sie mit dem eDiscovery Act massiv über's Ziel hinausgeschossen zu sein. Selbst in der Schweiz fallen immer mehr Kosten an, die direkt oder indirekt mit eDiscovery zu tun haben. Unternehmen, welche Aktivitäten in den USA pflegen und gewollt oder ungewollt in einen Rechtshändel geraten, werden unter Umständen Millionen Beträge aufwenden müssen, damit Anwaltsgehilfen ihre Akten durchwühlen dürfen. Es ist zu hoffen, dass sich die Praxis der Beweiserhebung in Europa nicht nach amerikanischem Muster entwickelt. Denn obwohl es begrüssenswert ist, dass Unternehmen ihre Daten organisieren, kann es nicht sein, dass man sich um Daten kümmern muss, die nicht im eigenen Einflussbereich liegen. Wir wissen mittlerweile, dass die Datenflut nicht beherrschbar sein wird, also kann es nur darum gehen, möglichst unternehmensgerechte Lösungen zu finden, mit welchen direkt auf die notwendigen Daten zugesteuert wird. Fazit: Es wird immer wichtiger, dass die kritischen Unternehmensdaten identifiziert und ordentlich verwaltet werden, alles andere wird früher oder später als Datenmüll - nicht enden - sondern in aller Ewigkeit in irgendwelchen Datenspeichern der Welt herumschwirren.

Bruno Wildhaber

Full text
Aug 28th 2008

A deluge of electronic information may overwhelm American civil justice

DAWN BEYE'S teenage daughter suffers from anorexia nervosa and had to
be treated in hospital at a cost of about $1,000 a day. Horizon Blue
Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the Beyes' insurance company, covered
one month of the bills but then balked, demanding evidence that the
affliction was "biologically based" rather than psychological. So Ms
Beye got together with parents of other anorexic and bulimic teenagers
and sued. Horizon immediately asked to see practically everything the
teenagers had said on their Facebook and MySpace profiles, in
instant-messaging threads, text messages, e-mails, blog posts and
whatever else the girls might have done online.

The Beyes' lawyer, David Mazie at Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman,
objected on the grounds that Horizon's demands violated the girls'
privacy. He lost. So hard disks and web pages are being scoured in
order for the case to proceed. Gathering and then sifting through all
the electronic information that a few teenage girls have generated is
excessive and daunting, says Mr Mazie.

And yet almost all information today is electronic, and there is ever
more of it. "Things that we would never have put in writing are now in
electronic form," says Rebecca Love Kourlis, formerly a justice on
Colorado's Supreme Court and now the director of an institute at the
University of Denver dedicated to rescuing America's civil-justice

This system, she says, was already a "sick patient"--with crowded
dockets and understaffed courts--but electronic discovery now threatens
a lethal "spike in fever". She has seen ordinary landlord-tenant
disputes take three years, and divorce cases that might have been
merely bitter, but are now digital wars of attrition. She sees cases
that are settled only because one party cannot afford the costs of
e-discovery: whereas in the past 5% of cases went to trial, now only 2%
do. She knows plaintiffs who cannot afford to sue at all, for fear of
the e-discovery costs.

For large companies, these costs now run into many millions. Patrick
Oot, a lawyer for Verizon, an American telecoms giant that gets sued a
lot, says that at the beginning of this decade e-discovery presented "a
one-big-case, once-a-year problem". In most cases information was still
on paper, and its volume thus limited. In the rare event that
electronic evidence was requested, 100 gigabytes (GB) was considered a
large amount. Today, says Mr Oot, almost every case involves
e-discovery and spits out "terabytes" of information--the equivalent of
millions of pages. In an ordinary case, 200 lawyers can easily review
electronic documents for four months, at a cost of millions of dollars,
he says.

This has led to a new boom industry of specialised e-discovery service
providers which merrily charge $125-600 an hour. George Socha, a
consultant, estimates that their annual revenues have grown from $40m
in 1999 to about $2 billion in 2006 and may hit $4 billion next year.

The process of e-discovery starts when the adversaries in a lawsuit
demand to see all sorts of information in their search for relevant
nuggets. Each side then has to identify all the laptops, smart-phones,
memory sticks, network servers and back-up tapes that might store data
created by the people in question. It probably also has to request logs
from online-service providers, if those people used web-mail or similar
services. The results then have to be indexed and reviewed by humans.
This usually falls to the junior staff at law firms, some of whom are
so fed up with the drudgery that they have quit the profession

For firms that find themselves in court a lot, it makes increasing
sense to bring this entire process in-house, rather than farming it
out. Verizon, for instance, has been using outside firms such as Kroll,
but found them "really expensive", says Mr Oot. So Verizon has
established a dedicated internal e-discovery group which Mr Oot
oversees and which will gradually take over all e-discovery using its
own software and staff. Mr Oot reckons this will save Verizon $11m in
costs over three years.

But even as huge companies such as Verizon learn to cope, the
civil-justice system as a whole threatens to get bogged down. Stephen
Breyer, a justice on America's Supreme Court, recently expressed
concern that, with ordinary cases costing millions just in e-discovery
work, "you're going to drive out of the litigation system a lot of
people who ought to be there" so that "justice is determined by wealth,
not by the merits of the case."

This is overwhelmingly an American problem. In countries such as France
and Germany that have an inquisitorial legal tradition, e-discovery
tends to be proportionate to the case, because judges largely determine
what information is relevant. By contrast, in adversarial common-law
systems, it is the opponents in a case that decide how much information
to peruse before picking out the evidence. But most countries within
this tradition, such as Britain, Canada and Australia, have recently
moved towards inquisitorial systems to minimise the threat from

As a result, American civil law is now "way behind" the rest of the
world, says Ms Love Kourlis. New federal rules that took effect in 2006
included guidelines for electronic data. But they have not changed a
fundamental aspect of America's brand of adversarial law, which places
almost no limit on the information that the plaintiff and defendant may
seek from each other.

So Ms Love Kourlis suggests some new rules. Judges in civil cases, she
says, need more power to assess and define the appropriate amount of
information that can be sought in each case. Civil cases ought to
require both sides to disclose what information they have, as in
criminal cases, thus ending the game of hide-and-seek that makes both
parties ask for more, for fear of missing something. And shifting
lawyers away from being paid by the hour (see article[1]) would mean
that they no longer had an incentive to add to the process.


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