In today’s modern age, digitally stored evidence is of the highest importance when it comes to legal processes. A survey published by Symantec Corp has shown that many legal companies spanning the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia) region are losing cases, due to the fact that they cannot manage the immense amounts of evidence that is stored on digital media.
Over half of the responses to the survey showed that the problem was identifying and recovering the evidence and that this had caused delays and sanctions as well as the previously mentioned ‘lost’ cases.
Whilst highlighting that many cases are being lost, the report does show that the ability to identify, collect and process the digital evidence from within millions of different pieces of electronic information has had an encouraging effect on many cases.
Joel Tobias, MD of global forensic services firm CY4OR, (www.cy4or.co.uk) stated that –
“It comes as no surprise that lawyers are facing penalties and losing cases after falling down at the challenge of processing digital information. This is a serious problem for legal professionals as 98 per cent of those surveyed said that the digital evidence identified during e-disclosure was vital to the success of legal matters.”
Joel went on to say how “Digital information needs to be handled with care and all electronic data should be treated as evidence. We’ve seen examples of firms that have used internal IT personnel to gather data for e-disclosure, when they have no understanding of digital forensics. Both areas of expertise rely on the controlled investigation of electronic data and as such are inextricably linked. The legal profession needs to be aware of this synergy, to avoid fines and lost cases. Professionals who are involved in e-disclosure should have a sound understanding of digital forensics and vice versa, to ensure a just and consistent approach.”
It is clear that there is a need for organisations to ensure that they are “Forensically Ready” and have staff trained to gather data in a way that is forensically sound.
The survey was conducted in August 2010, throughout the EMEA region and involved an estimated 5000 lawyers.