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Include e-Discovery In Rules, Judge Tells Court Heads

A judge of the High Court of Kogi State, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, has advised heads of court to amend the rules for electronic discovery (e-discovery).

He delivered a paper at a specialised training for prosecutors of environmental offences organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

In his paper titled: Digital evidence and e-discovery in prosecuting environmental cases, Justice Omolaye-Ajileye stressed the importance of electronic discovery in litigations involving electronically-stored information (ESI).

He said: “In this digital age characterised by the proliferation of digital devices which have facilitated the creation, storage, and communication of electronic information of all kinds, electronic discovery has become an essential and inevitable fabric of the litigation processes around the world.”

The jurist noted that the emerging dominance of the information technology landscape would make the discovery of ESI an increasingly important tool to attain the truth in cases.

He added that with e-discovery, litigants can retrieve information from a wide range of electronic sources, including, but not limited to, social media accounts, messages, emails, documents or any other valuable data.

Justice Omolaye-Ajileye regretted that only the National Industrial Court (NIC) has provisions guiding e-discovery in its civil procedure rules.

He said other courts only have provisions for the inspection and discovery of hardcopy documents, which he said falls short of e-discovery requirements.

This, the judge believes, is a major gap that demands urgent attention because, according to him, the “primary duty of the judex, through its rules, is to provide an enabling environment that will facilitate and enhance the attainment of justice”.

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