In the January 2014 edition of Canadian Lawyer, Dera J. Nevin devoted her Tech Support column to a discussion of Sedona Canada, entitled “Filling a gap: What is the Sedona Conference Working Group 7, and why does it matter?” Ms. Nevin, who is a member of the Sedona Conference Working Group Series, describes the mission of Working Group 7 (known as Sedona Canada) and its open membership policy. She also identifies Sedona Canada’s landmark achievements in the area of electronic discovery and disclosure in civil litigation, including the publication of The Sedona Canada Principles in 2008 and their subsequent adoption by reference into the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as the publication for public comment of several commentaries on related topics.
Ms. Nevin acknowledges two criticisms that have been made by others regarding Sedona Canada, which the members of the Sedona Canada steering committee would like to address. One is that Sedona Canada is “irrelevant,” and the other is that it is “insular.”
Regarding the latter criticism, the article points out membership in Sedona Canada is open to anyone on payment of a modest annual membership fee, which is waived for judges and full-time federal, provincial, or local municipal employees. Members are free to attend meetings and conference calls, and to comment on draft works-in-progress.
The selection of members for drafting teams and other project committees is made by the steering committee, which seeks at all times to achieve diversity and a balance of viewpoints. Members of the steering committee itself are all unpaid volunteers, as is indeed the entire membership of Sedona Canada. So while we don’t believe the critique of insularity is valid, we accept Ms. Nevin’s challenge to overcome that perception of insularity by better promoting Sedona Canada membership and participation, especially among small firm and sole practitioners, in-house counsel, and public sector lawyers.
As to the criticism that Sedona Canada’s work is irrelevant, the facts indicate otherwise. The principles and other Sedona Canada publications are relevant to the extent they become referenced, as they have multiple times, in other works such as the Rules of Civil Procedure, court decisions, and secondary sources and become accepted in the daily practice of lawyers.
For example, Ontario Rule 29.2 on proportionality in discovery mirrors much of what is contained in Sedona Canada’s principles and proportionality commentary. At the same time, there is no denying the process of reviewing and updating the principles and the accompanying commentaries has taken longer than any of us would like; something that is being addressed this year. We welcome Ms. Nevin’s continued leadership on e-discovery and related issues of technology and the practice of law, and we very much appreciate her observation that Sedona Canada serves an essential role in “filling the gaps” in Canadian e-discovery law and practice. But we must remind readers Sedona Canada is not a distant, aloof organization. We are all Sedona Conference, and Sedona Canada is what each of us makes of it, through our continued and growing participation in dialogue, thought leadership, and education.
For the full list of Sedona Canada publications go to sedonaconference.org and look under “publications, international.”
Colin Campbell and James Swanson wrote this piece as representatives of The Sedona Conference Working Group 7 (Sedona Canada) steering committee.