eDiscovery Daily Blog

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?: eDiscovery Throwback Thursdays

Here’s our latest blog post in our Throwback Thursdays series where we are revisiting some of the eDiscovery best practice posts we have covered over the years and discuss whether any of those recommended best practices have changed since we originally covered them.

This post was originally published on May 9, 2011, when eDiscovery Daily was less than nine months old.

One of the things that has been clear about many of the projects I’ve managed over the years is that establishing a time zone for the project is important to do at the outset to set the time and date of emails as Outlook stores emails in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time of the email is displayed based on the time zone of the system viewing the time.  So, a workstation displaying the time of an email in Central time would display it as UTC−05:00 (at least for Central Daylight Time) as a time offset of five hours earlier than the UTC time.  So, it’s 7:11 (oh, thank heaven!) PM here in Houston, but already after midnight tomorrow in UTC time (also historically referred to as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)).  Change the time zone of the workstation and the time (and possibly the date) will change for the same email when displayed.  As you can see below, that can potentially have an important impact on the relevancy of certain emails.  Enjoy!

Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does anybody really care?

OK, it’s an old song by Chicago (back then, they were known as the Chicago Transit Authority).  But, the question of what time it really is has a significant effect on how eDiscovery is handled.

Time Zone: In many litigation cases, one of the issues that should be discussed and agreed upon is the time zone to apply to the produced files.  Why is it a big deal?  Let’s look at one example:

A multinational corporation has offices from coast to coast and potentially responsive emails are routinely sent between East Coast and West Coast offices.  If an email is sent from a party in the West Coast office at 10 PM on June 30, 2015 and is received by a party in the East Coast office at 1 AM on July 1, 2015, and the relevant date range is from July 1, 2015 thru December 31, 2016, then the choice of time zones will determine whether or not that email falls within the relevant date range.  The time zone is based on the workstation setting, so they could actually be in the same office when the email is sent (if someone is traveling).

Usually the choice is to either use a standard time zone for all files in the litigation – such as UTC or the time zone where the producing party is located.  It’s important to determine the handling of time zones up front in cases where multiple time zones are involved to avoid potential disputes down the line.

Which Date to Use?: Each email and efile has one or more date and time stamps associated with it.  Emails have date/time sent, as well as date/time received.  Efiles have creation date/time, last modified date/time and even last printed date/time.  Efile creation dates do not necessarily reflect when a file was actually created; they indicate when a file came to exist on a particular storage medium, such as a hard drive. So, creation dates can reflect when a user or computer process created a file. However, they can also reflect the date and time that a file was copied to the storage medium – as a result, the creation date can be later than the last modified date.  It’s common to use date sent for emails and to use last modified date for efiles.  But, there are exceptions, so again it’s important to agree up front as to which date to use.

So, what do you think?  Have you had any date disputes in your eDiscovery projects?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.