Fixing fraud and corruption — the need for electronic discovery

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Behind any business deal, there are lots of communications in form of emails, phone calls, text messages (SMS) or even social network chats and discussion. During negotiations, the parties to the transaction create documents, edit, share and discuss a lot.

The use of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, computers, disks and Internet in any transaction business is on the rise. Every day, people send short messages, write email, share documents, make phone calls or use the internet to search for information of interest.

So when it comes to a time where there is some form of disagreement, you want to determine at which point in the relationship things started going wrong. If your problem is disclosure of confidential information, you want to know who and how they did it. If someone has refused to fulfill their part of the bargain, you want answers. Who caused it? Why and how did they do it?

Remember the recent case of URA involving hacking into her system; two people were successfully convicted thanks to the piece of email evidence in which they communicated their plans of hacking into URA systems. Without that email, it would have been very difficult for prosecution to succeed with such a case. Likewise, all frauds and corruption scandals reported in the media have lots of digital evidence behind them.

The need for forensics

Because your communication leaves behind massive data in electronic or digital format, collecting this information in a forensically sound manner and in line with the legal provisions, may help you get to the bottom of the problem.

That is where forensic experts come in. To conduct electronic discovery. That is why forensic experts should not and cannot replace a lawyer. They must work closely with lawyers to ensure any piece of evidence they need in the case is obtained. Failure to involve forensic experts for ESI (electronically stored information) in the case might mean that ‘smoking gun’ evidence in form of digital format is not identified and used to support your case.

The collection, preservation, recovery, analysis and preparation of information originally stored on electronic media is called electronic discovery. It is much more than mere recovery of computer data. It involves proper evidence handling and preservation, sifting through chunks of information using a thoughtful investigative process. And providing results in a way that can be used by a non-technical attorney or court.

Electronic discovery is accomplished most effectively when performed in conjunction with a case strategy and an experienced forensic consultant. Lawyers need experts who will make them shine. As a lawyer, you need trusted partners who are the best in their field. That is what makes you a smart lawyer – the people on your team. Your ability to understand the case and all its facts and evidence. All its parties. As well as knowing the judge or magistrate on your case. This puts you in charge. And for this, you deserve the title: “lead counsel.” The information needed to build a case increasingly resides on computer systems or digital media  Far more information is retained on a computer than many people realize.

The way computer works is such that it is almost impossible to completely remove information that is generally thought to have been deleted. For some of these reasons, computer forensics can often find evidence of, or completely recover, lost or deleted information, even if it was intentionally deleted.

To obtain this information in legal ways, you cannot simply turn the computer “ON” and start searching. You will spoil the evidence on the reasons of tampering or contamination of the original evidence.  Great forensic investigators, take the issues of spoliation, preservation of evidence and admissibility in the discovery of facts very critical.


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