eDiscovery is no longer just an American problem. For decades, eDiscovery has been considered a US problem, but this has all changed. Belgium and Brussels in particular, is slowly becoming the epicenter of European eDiscovery. Main driver is the increasing number of regulatory requests and subsequent investigations by the European Commission.
Originally, eDiscovery referred to discovery in typical US legal proceedings where the information sought is in electronic format (often referred to as electronically stored information or ESI). Such electronic discovery is subject to rules of civil procedure and agreed-upon processes, often involving review for privilege and relevance before data are turned over to the requesting party. In the United States, electronic discovery was the subject of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), effective December 1, 2006, as amended on December 1, 2015.
eDiscovery: increasingly European
But over the years, the same principles and guidelines are used in Europe as well, initially by the regulatory agencies and later also by law firms and corporate audit and investigation departments. Now, eDiscovery related to answering regulatory request is the #1 reason for eDiscovery in Europe and the Brussels conglomerate in Belgium in particular. Competition, financial oversight, privacy, consumer protection, tax, fraud, bribery, health care, environmental, are just a few of the areas that are under increasing attention of the authorities.
Competition investigations are the most notorious ones involving huge electronic data sets and often resulting in what is called “serial litigation”, which leads to the need to keep data accessible for quite some time. After the Volkswagen exhaustion scandal, we can now add environmental investigations to the focus list of the European Commission together with an ongoing focus on privacy regulations after the introduction of the GDPR in May of 2018. We can confidently state that eDiscovery is no longer just a US problem!
If your interest is peaked with regards to eDiscovery in Belgium or Brussels, then contact the Association for Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS) Benelux Chapter: https://www.aceds.org/group/Benelux