Kroll Ontrack recently presented the Ediscovery in China: Traditions, Rules and Customs You Need to Know webinar. In the webinar, which is now available on-demand, Kate Chan, Kroll Ontrack’s Regional Managing Director in APAC, discussed the following barriers and best practices for ediscovery projects with data in China.
The Implications of China’s Regulatory Framework
Unlike the United States, China does not have formal discovery practices in civil litigation, which presents initial contentions between these legal systems on opposite sides of the world. The Chinese government has several regulations that impose possible restrictions on gathering data in China for an investigation or litigation. The most impactful regulation is the State Secrets law. State secrets are broadly and vaguely defined by the Chinese government as “matters that have a vital bearing on state security and national interests and, as specified by legal procedure, are entrusted to a limited number of people for a given period of time.” Individuals are prohibited from sharing and transferring such secrets, complicating data collection, review and production practices, should any of such information be classified as a State Secret in an investigation or litigation.
Language and Cultural Challenges
Other ediscovery barriers in China revolve around language and culture: English is not the primary language in China, the Chinese are very formal in their communication style and there are many regional dialects in China, making searches and early data assessment difficult for English-speaking litigation professionals.
Work culture in China is very family-oriented, with the entire family prioritized above the needs of individual members, also known as familism. Because of this, many managers tend to hire their relatives and many businesses tend to be family-owned.
Further, litigation teams working in China need to understand the Chinese cultural phenomenon known as guanxi, which refers to personalized networks of influence and reciprocity between individuals and businesses. All of this makes examining data related to ediscovery challenging and unique.
In addition to the regulations, language and cultural challenges, the Chinese economy is still developing. China’s legal system and corporate governance practices are less developed when compared to other countries, resulting in much reluctance toward, and unfamiliarity with, data collection and analysis activities associated with litigation. Manufacturing and production plants tend to be located in remote locations rather than in big cities, which means that litigation teams often have only one chance to obtain the needed data. Lastly, China still uses a great deal of paper documents with employees often mixing data between their personal and business computers.
With all the challenges that litigation teams may face when an ediscovery project crosses borders to China, these are some of helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Get an expert well-versed with different Chinese-language dialects
- Consider diverse data sources
- Use local resources for collection
- Consider a mobile ediscovery solution
Want to learn more? Download the webinar today!