This weekend, the ABA hosted the 2015 London Sessions commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, with a series of presentations including a panel discussion titled “What can US and UK lawyers learn from each other about best practices?“
There were a number of best practices discussed, but of particular interest to LPR was how discovery is handled in the UK. In the US, discovery is based upon requests in a search for the truth. The discovery process can take years depending on the court and the size of the case. In the US, if an attorney fails to request certain relevant documents or information, the opposing attorney has no disclosure obligation. The result has been blanket requests in an effort to not miss anything and substantial fees to review all of the documents and information produced.
In the UK, attorneys are required to conduct a reasonable search and produce all documents that directly support the positions of both sides. And they must do so at the outset of the case.
If the US were to adopt the UK’s disclosure practice, the life of lawsuits would be shortened, litigation costs would go down, the “truth” would be more transparent, and perhaps there would be less litigation. That would be best practices indeed.