Client
A firm that specialises in group litigation for a class of claimants

Background
This case involved an oil pipeline run by a large multi-national company. It was alleged that the pipeline was leaking and leeching oil into farm land, polluting water sources and damaging livestock and fishstock and as a result affecting the livelihood of many people on whose behalf the client was bringing a class action.

Task
The client did not possess sufficient technical knowledge or experience to challenge the defendant’s e-disclosure process effectively so instructed PLT to manage it for them.

Challenges
The need to ensure that the opposition’s e-disclosure was properly managed; dealing with a significant time lapse between the period under investigation and the case being brought; determining how to capture the correct sources of an early email system.

Overview
It was a task that required a vast knowledge of court procedure. Our experts had to provide an expert critique of the opposition’s Electronic Document Questionnaire (EDQ) under Practice Direction 31b so as to be able to explain to the judge why the opposition approach wasn’t appropriate for the client and why it might result in important documents being lost.

It was a technically challenging case as the relevant data came from the mid- to late-1990s, a period during which information technology evolved rapidly. The defendant at that time had made the change from a Mac operating environment to a Windows NT operating environment and had also installed a large email infrastructure before it became common practice to do so. The PLT team had to ensure, therefore, that the opposition was capturing the correct sources of these early email systems so it could be seen what people were saying about how the pipe was being built, and whether the necessary safety guidelines were being adhered to and the required environmental checks carried out.

Our team of specialists was present in court on a number of different occasions to assist counsel in every possible way from advising on the correct use of terminology and technology, to the drafting and presentation of skeleton arguments.

Findings
For disclosure arguments at Case Management Conferences it is helpful to have technical experts on hand whether formal evidence is to be provided by them or whether they are to advise from the back.

Outcome
The client was successful in obtaining numerous court orders that it sought in relation to the defendant’s process. The matter is ongoing.