Privacy and Security TidBits

E-Discovery Challenges in China

by Kevin Lo

A complicated international anti-dumping case brought several U.S. lawyers and a team of e-discovery experts to a large industrial town in northeast China. They had come to interview senior executives and conduct a search of paper and electronic records at a major pharmaceutical company.

During negotiations for the trip, the company said the team was more than welcome to speak with anyone they wished to meet and that access to records would be granted willingly. What transpired once the team arrived in China, however, was considerably different.

To begin with, their hosts seemed disinclined to get down to business. On the first day, they insisted on giving a tour of the large plant. It was long and far too detailed for the team’s interests. Having everything translated only added to the ordeal.

After the tour ended, the hosts suggested everyone go to lunch. The lead lawyer politely declined, despite the urging of her translator to accept. The lawyer asked, instead, to begin the discovery process. “I would like to begin by taking a copy of your hard drive,” she said to the company’s CEO.

Although the CEO didn’t say no outright, it was obvious this request made him quite upset. Rather than discuss the matter further, he changed the subject back to the luncheon invitation. “We can eat and have something to drink and get to know each other,” he said.

“He’s got something to hide,” one of the lawyers said to his colleagues. Although he had made this observation in an aside, it was loud enough for the CEO’s translator to hear.

Read More