Coming soon: common bundles, and more

A number of users have requested a feature for creating common bundles as required under the High Court Rules (2012).

We have been working hard to add this new functionality, and we will have an announcement on it soon. These enhancements will simplify the often laborious process of collating, paginating and indexing a common bundle.

We also have plans for further enhancements to support electronic bundles which are being introduced by the Courts and encouraged within the profession.

We expect to roll out common bundle features later this month.

Stay tuned!

New options for document dates

We are pleased to announce that LawFlow now supports partial dates – e.g. 00/03/2013 – making it easier to assign date information to documents as required to generate discovery lists.

When the exact date of a document is known, you can enter it in a standard format, e.g. 19/03/2014 or 19 March 2014. However, sometimes the exact date of a document is not known. You may only know the month and year, or just the year.

With the most recent update, LawFlow now supports the entry of a partial date comprising just the month and year, or just the year. For example:

  • If you know only the month and year of a document, you can enter a date in the form 00/03/2014 or 03/2014 or March 2014.
  • If you know only the year of a document, you can enter a date in the form 00/00/2014 or 2014.

This replaces the previous method of using a “sort date” and a free-text field. Documents with partial dates continue to be sorted in date order based on the partial date information provided.

You can also specify a custom date value for the date field (as free text) which will override any exact or partial date. This enables you, for example, to give a custom date value of 2013-2014 or Late 2013.

You can also expressly flag whether a date (exact or partial) is an estimated date, per the High Court Rules.

As with many of the ongoing new features in LawFlow, this was added following feedback from our users. As a New Zealand company focused on New Zealand requirements, we are always very pleased and grateful for your feedback to continue making LawFlow New Zealand’s discovery solution.

If you have any questions about the new date options, please contact us at support@lawflow.co.nz

Similar document detection in LawFlow

We have recently added a great new feature to LawFlow – similar document detection. This uses the extracted text of a document to instantly match “similar” documents in the project. If any similar documents are detected, they are listed on the “Related” tab of the document being viewed.

Similar document detection can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Detecting email chains;
  • Finding draft or revised versions of documents;
  • Quickly setting a group of similar documents as not discoverable, etc.

How it works

As with other search tools, similar document detection relies on the text that is extracted from documents. If the documents are in a compatible native format (e.g. standard Office formats and emails), most if not all of the text can be extracted. If the document is a PDF of a scanned document, then text can be extracted via OCR (although as always with OCR, results are dependent on the quality of the scan and other factors).

Each document’s text is then cleaned and broken up into sentences or fragments. These fragments are then used to find other documents that contain the same fragments.

What is “similar”?

A “similar” document is one that has a specified number of matching fragments. LawFlow lets you configure the minimum number of matches for a document to be “similar”. LawFlow also lets you flag certain fragments as “junk” fragments which will be ignored for the purposes of determining similarity – for example, common email footers can be flagged as junk to reduce the number of matches.

Limitations

Like any search function or automated tool, the efficacy of similar document detection is dependent on a large number of factors and should be used judiciously and as an aid, not a substitute, for a review of documents. For example, documents with a significant amount of unusual or non-textual content (e.g. documents containing financial data), or unusual formatting, may not produce matches.

As always, we welcome all feedback and look forward to making this a useful addition to New Zealand’s e-discovery solution.

If you would like more information on this or any other LawFlow feature, please contact us.

January 2014 update

Welcome to 2014! We have made a stack of enhancements and updates to LawFlow in the past few months including:

  • Similar document detection: we are very pleased to annouce this major new feature. When you are viewing a document in LawFlow, it automatically shows you (on the “Related” tab) any similar documents that are detected. This can be very useful when reviewing large volumes of data, and can help (for example) identify threads in emails. We will post a separate blog about this new feature.
  • Related documents: each document now shows related documents (duplicates, similar documents, email thread documents) in one place, the Related Documents tabs.
  • References to High Court Rules: we have added references to the High Court Rules on certain screens to provide more information about particular requirements.
  • More list & bundle options: as requested by customers, we have added more options for list and bundle generation, including the ability to export certain file types as native documents while exporting the rest as PDFs.
  • More options for setting discovery information: you can now choose to overwrite existing values (the default option) or preserve any existing values.
  • Improved email thread options: it is now easier to browse and review email threads by repository and by review status.
  • Split / combine folders: you can now split a folder of documents into subfolders with equal numbers of documents in each (useful for assigning to multiple users for review). You can also combine or “flatten” folders.
  • Strip attachments function: a function for stripping attachments from parent documents (useful if dealing with scanned documents sent by email).
  • Improved PDF splitting: more options for splitting a PDF into separate documents
  • Browse by year / month: in addition to browsing by a specific date, you can now browse by year or month.

And many more!

A number of these enhancements are a result of feedback from our customers. As always, thanks to our customers for your support, and we look forward to a great 2014.

June 2013 update

It’s been a busy few months, with customers using LawFlow for new projects ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of documents, including some with non-standard requirements.

We continue to add new features and improvements, some of which are in response to specific customer requests – as a New Zealand-developed discovery solution, we are able to modify our system to meet specific local requirements. Here is a selection of recent changes:

Easier way to add/edit document types

It’s now easier & faster to add a new document type that is not already in the list, or to edit a document type that has already been set. This is particularly useful for projects where longer, more descriptive document types are being used.

Options for how authors & recipients are displayed

Authors and recipients can now be displayed in a number of ways, including with organisation and party code included.

Return to last-edited document

There is now an option to return to the document that you last edited, which makes it easier to pick up reviewing documents from where you left off. There is also a summary of unreviewed documents on the home page of the project.

Review email threads

A tool for reviewing detected email threads as a group has been added.

Easier linking of email addresses to parties

Linking email addresses to parties (authors/recipients) can save a lot of time and effort. The process for linking email addresses to parties has been made easier.

Optional extra columns in discovery lists

An option has been added to generate discovery lists with additional information (beyond what is required under the High Court Rules, but which users have requested).

Document status page

A document status page has been added to provide a summary of documents in the project, their conversion status, indexing status, etc.

Export current view to Excel

The current category on the Documents page can be exported to Excel. This is useful if you want to export a list of the documents currently being viewed.

Recent LawFlow updates

We regularly add new features and enhancements to LawFlow based on feedback from our users. Here is a partial list of recent updates to LawFlow:

Improved search layout

search results are now displayed in 3 vertical panes. This makes it easier to view document content and properties.

Easier importing of documents from other parties

We’ve improved how the import function allows you to import documents and data received from other parties. You can use the other party’s list of documents (via a “mapping file” in Excel or HTML format) to automatically ‘map’ the information required to be provided in the Listing & Exchange Protocols of the High Court Rules.

“Email document” function

You can now email a LawFlow document to yourself at the click of a button.

Improved document downloads

When downloading a document, you can now choose whether to “stamp” the document with its Document ID, or download the redacted version if one is available. These options are also available for the “email document” function.

Improved document identifier

Documents in LawFlow can two have identifiers (IDs): the internal ID which is automatically assigned when the document is uploaded and cannot be changed, and the number that is assigned when the document is added to a list. Previously, LawFlow mainly used only the internal ID.

Now, once a document is locked on a list, the list document number is used as the main identifier.

The same applies to documents received from other parties which are uploaded into the project: when the mapping file is applied, the documents will adopt the number given in the document list.

This makes it easier to find and refer to documents in a project.

If you would like to find out more about these features or arrange a demonstration of LawFlow, please contact us.

Enhanced redaction features

LawFlow has a handy built-in redaction tool that allows you to redact documents directly in your browser without the need for third-party software.

In response to user requests, we have now enhanced this tool to allow:

  • Text to be added to the redaction box – for example, you can add text “Redacted” or “Privileged” to the redaction box; and
  • Colour options for the redaction box.

Thanks to our users for requesting these enhancements.

October 2012 update

As a New Zealand company, we regularly add new features and enhancements to LawFlow to meet local requirements based on feedback from our users. Here is a selection of the latest updates:

Easier creation of repositories

Repositories are used to group related documents in order to create separate document lists. They can be used to create logical divisions in document lists, for example if you want to list a particular group of documents together on a discovery list, then you can create a specific repository for that group of document.

It is now easier to convert an existing folder into a repository (and vice-versa), and create a new repository.

Separate prefixes/suffixes for each repository

Each repository can now have its own unique prefix and suffix for list numbering. For example, if you have two repositories, “ABC Ltd” and “XYZ Ltc”, you can assign separate prefixes to list numbers in each. E.g. ABC.0001 for one repository and XYZ.0001 for another. Or, if you want to divide your lists by issue, then each issue can have its own prefix.

Continuous list numbering

Previously, each repository would number documents starting at 1. This meant that if you set up two or more repositories, each Part 1 document list in each repository would start at number 1. Now, you can set repositories to continue numbering from a previous repository.

For example: you have two repositories, ABC and XYZ. The documents in the ABC repository lists run from ABC.0001 to ABC.0099. The XYZ repository can be set up to automatically continue numbering, so its documents will be numbered from XYZ.0100 onwards.

Custom list start number

You can now set a custom start number for document lists in each repository, if you do not wish to start at 1.

Optional Part 2 and Part 3 lists

By default, each repository creates a Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 list (corresponding to open, privileged and confidential documents under the High Court Rules). You can now optionally disable Part 2 and/or Part 3 lists for any given repository.

This can be useful, for example, when you do not wish to provide a list of privileged documents (Part 2 list) but instead wish to list privileged documents by group (which is expressly permitted under the rules). In such a case, you can disable the Part 2 list. This means that a Part 2 list will not be generated, and any Part 3 documents will continue numbering from Part 1.

More options for bulk-setting discovery information

Previously, LawFlow enabled bulk-setting of the discoverable, confidential and privileged fields. You can now bulk-set all discovery fields, including:

  • Document type
  • Date
  • Author
  • Recipient

More enhancements coming soon

These new features are available immediately to all users. Plus, more updates are coming soon, including a popular request from a number of users: the ability to add text to a redaction (for example, adding the word “Redacted” or “Privileged” to a redaction block).

If you would like to find out more about these features or arrange a demonstration of LawFlow, please contact us.

Handling confidential documents in discovery

By its nature, discovery often involves disclosing confidential documents, or documents containing confidential information.

Confidentiality is usually not grounds for withholding (i.e. not disclosing) a discoverable document. Documents can be withheld on the grounds of privilege (either as codified in the Evidence Act 2006, or the residual common law privileges) or irrelevance, but there is no privilege for “commercial sensitivity” or other such aspects of confidentiality (see ss 68-70 of the Evidence Act for other grounds).

But this does not mean that confidential documents need to be handed over without restriction.

The starting point is relevance, under the “adverse documents” test. If a document is not required to be discovered, then issues of handling confidential information in that document should not arise.

If a document is discoverable, then High Court Rule 8.15(2)(f) permits the producing party to propose “restrictions … to protect the claimed confidentiality of any document”. Rule 8.28(3) then permits the producing party to produce those documents subject to the proposed restrictions. If the receiving parties wish to challenge the proposed restrictions, they may do so pursuant to Rule 8.25.

There are several important points to note:

  1. The confidential documents must be listed as confidential documents in the affidavit of documents (usually ‘part 3’).
  2. The proposed restrictions on the confidential documents must be stated in the affidavit of documents itself.
  3. The producing party is free, within reason, to propose whatever restrictions they consider appropriate, though this should be read subject to the duty to co-operate.
  4. It is up to the receiving party to challenge the restrictions, if they wish. This will usually require an interlocutory application or a memorandum seeking directions (a party that inappropriately claimed confidentiality, or proposed inappropriate conditions, would likely have to pay costs).

What restrictions can be applied?

While rule 8.30(4) limits the use of discovered documents to the purposes of the proceeding only, and prevents extra-judicial disclosure, the producing party still may wish protect the confidentiality of certain information.

The producing party is at liberty to propose appropriate restrictions. Common restrictions include:

  • Redacting documents. While relevant information cannot be withheld on the grounds of confidentiality, non-relevant confidential information could be redacted, making the resulting document discoverable with redactions (“DWR”; the same can apply to privileged documents). For example, a document may be commercially sensitive because it contains sales figures or name of other customers. If sales figures or customer names are not relevant to the dispute, a redacted version of the document omitting that information could be provided (as a Part 1 document).

    LawFlow includes an easy-to-use redaction tool that allows you to safely redact documents directly in your browser.

  • Limiting inspection. Confidential documents are sometimes provided on an “attorney’s eyes only” basis that limits inspection to the receiving party’s lawyers and experts only. This is usually supported by an undertaking from the receiving party’s solicitor.
  • A combination of the above, where redacted versions are made available to the receiving party themselves (without restrictions), and the full versions are available for the receiving party’s lawyers (with undertakings) to inspect in order to confirm the legitimacy of the redactions.

Common sense should prevail

Care should be taken not to claim confidentiality over-zealously. Rule 8.30(4) provides a reasonably robust level of protection to all discovery documents, and it is not necessary (nor appropriate) to claim confidentiality across tracts of documents without an “elevated” need to do so. A robust case should be made.

In practice, most discovery issues of this nature can and should be resolved between the parties on a common sense basis – which is supported to some extent by the duty to co-operate that the new rules impose.

Increased project storage

In response to demand, we’ve increased the storage allowances for projects at no extra cost. This allows larger files to be stored per project. Please see our pricing page for details.

Which just goes to show that modern discovery is a “big data” process – one that LawFlow can help you manage effectively.