U.K. High Court Approves the Use of Predictive Coding in Litigation

UK Predictive Coding

Legal technology providers in the U.K. have a lot to celebrate as the English High Court recently approved the use of predictive coding for disclosure in litigation.

The judgment, handed down by Master Matthews in Pyrrho Investments Ltd. v. MWB Property Ltd. [2016] EWHC 256 (Ch), gave official judicial authorization for the use of predictive coding in High Court proceedings. Summing up his decision, Master Matthews stated that predictive coding is just as accurate, if not more so than a manual review using keyword searches, mirroring the sentiments shared by Judge Peck’s 2012 opinion in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe regarding the appropriateness of predictive coding and its potential benefits. Master Matthews also estimated that predictive coding would offer significant cost savings in this particular case and that the possible disclosure of over two million documents done via traditional manual review would be disproportionate and “unreasonable.”

To read a short summary of the judgment, please click here, or read the judgment in full here.

Predictive Coding Goes Global

Predictive coding has become a global phenomenon over the past few years. The United States and Ireland have led the way in giving judicial approval to predictive coding, with Judge Peck’s Da Silva Moore opinion setting the predictive coding tone in 2012. Since then, the United States has continued to adopt the use of predictive coding, with a number of substantive cases further establishing its use. Ireland recently embraced predictive coding as well in the 2015 Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd & ors v. Quinn & ors case holding that, in the discovery of large data sets, technology-assisted review using predictive coding is at least as accurate as, and probably more accurate than, the manual or linear method of identifying relevant documents. Not surprisingly, the Pyrrho judgment in the UK references these cases in detail.

Combatting Predictive Coding Objections

Despite these cases and the ever-increasing sophistication of the technology itself, the UK law community has been somewhat reluctant to make use of the technology, as explored in this study by Kroll Ontrack Legal Consultant and former litigation lawyer Hitesh Chowdhry. In Chowdhry’s white paper, “Rage against the Machine; Attitudes to Predictive Coding Amongst UK Lawyers,” he notes that his study revealed that the main barriers to adopting predictive coding technology were:

  • Risk aversion and mistrust of the technology’s accuracy
  • Belief that predictive coding would have a negative effect on revenue
  • Satisfaction with existing methods and a belief that existing practices offered more accuracy than studies have suggested
  • Insufficient understanding and knowledge of the complex predictive coding process
  • Diffusion among professionals

The UK Pyrrho judgment counters many of the fears uncovered in Chowdhry’s study by stating that the technology is accurate and offers cost savings. The efficiency of TAR and the cost savings offered by predictive coding will undoubtedly be popular with clients and potentially will give a competitive edge in winning work. Hopefully, this ruling will encourage more UK firms to take advantage of the benefits offered by predictive coding.

For more information about this technology, read Kroll Ontrack’s e-book, “Mastering Predictive Coding: The Ultimate Guide.”

On the topics of ediscovery and technology’s role in the law, Michele is among the nation’s most knowledgeable experts. Most notably, she co-authored the American Bar Association book, titled "Electronic Evidence and Discovery: What Every Lawyer Should Know." Fully knowledgeable in Legal Technology solutions and trends, she delivers thoughtful information through blogs, newsletters, webinars, videos and podcasts.

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