Litigators in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) have been ordered to adopt a common protocol for processing electronic evidence from 1 January, in a bid to make case management more efficient.

The protocol, designed by the Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeCSA), aims to ensure all parties are up to speed in eDisclosure practices and are working within common guidelines. It covers identifying, collecting, processing, analysing and reviewing electronically stored information concerning proceedings. 

Speaking at conference to launch the protocol, Justice Edwards Stuart, judge at the TCC, said the guide should be used as a ‘default’. ‘From 1 January 2014 [we will] order parties to adopt the protocol in default of any appropriate agreement by the parties to the contrary,’ he said. But he added there may be some circumstances in which parties would be exempt. 

A mandated protocol from the outset will make the courts more efficient, he said. ‘It will smooth the path of litigation and save costs and time,’ he told the Gazette.

A guide to the eDisclosure protocol from the Technology and Construction Solicitors Association (TeCSA) said there has been increasing disparity in knowledge and experience of eDisclosure ‘which continues to affect the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the litigation process much to the detriment of all concerned.’

Simon Tolson, chairman of TeCSA, said the protocol could be adopted in other areas of civil litigation where disputes are document-intensive. He added the protocol would continue to be tweaked as an ‘iterative’ document.