Ruling could encourage more lawyers to use automated review process in e-disclosure.

The High Court has ruled in favour of the use of predictive coding in electronic disclosure, in the first contested case concerning the admissability of the 'machine learning' technology.

The ruling comes shortly after predictive coding was approved for the first time by a UK court in Pyrrho Investments v MWB Property.

Predictive coding software analyses a small ‘seed set’ of documents picked by a lawyer to generate a further sample for review, then, learning as it goes, identifies relevant documents across a large dataset far more quickly than a human lawyer. 

Litigation firm Candey, acting for David Brown, contested the use of the technology over concerns about its accuracy. But sitting in the Companies Court, Registrar Jones ruled in favour of predictive coding after international firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, acting for BCA Trading, argued that predictive coding would reduce costs and was more accurate than the human review process.

The firm, led by litigation and corporate risk partner Oliver Glynn-Jones (pictured), said the traditional review process involving paralegals would cost two and half times as much as predictive coding.

Glynn-Jones told the Gazette : ’We have thought for some time that predictive coding is the future of disclosure in English litigation which is why we have invested in bring it in-house.’

He said this latest ruling would encourage more lawyers to use the software in litigation and said it could ultimately lead to lawyers being expected to consider using predictive coding in the e-disclosure process. 

He added that while predictive coding is more widely used in the US, it is ‘very much in its infancy’ in the UK. It was first approved in the US in 2013 and endorsed in Ireland last year.

Glynn-Jones said: ‘Lawyers are quite conservative and probably as a profession slower to adapt to change than other professions. But given the cost of disclosure within the litigation process and the savings predictive disclosure can give, I hope this will be something that will be adopted by lawyers fairly quickly.’


READ MORE: Susan Monty, who acted for one of the defendants in Pyrrho, wrote an analysis of predictive coding for the Gazette in March.