Washington Law Review


Addressing the Costs and Comity Concerns of International E-Discovery

June 01, 2012 | 87 Wash. L. Rev. 595

Abstract:  The volume of electronically stored information (ESI) is expanding rapidly. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, litigants may request electronic discovery (e- discovery) of many different forms of ESI. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the party responding to an e-discovery request presumptively pays all e-discovery costs, including the costs of preserving, producing, and reviewing the requested ESI. Therefore, the rapidly increasing volume of ESI has substantially increased the costs of e-discovery for producing parties. In the 2003 case, Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York established a two-step test that allows a court to shift some of the e-discovery costs from the responding party to the requesting party. Since 2003, many federal district courts and some state courts have followed the two-step Zubulake test for conducting e-discovery in the United States. However, no court has yet established a test for cost-shifting in international e-discovery—conducting e-discovery on ESI located outside the United States. International e-discovery has unique costs and implicates concerns of national sovereignty. This Comment argues that courts should adopt a cost-shifting test for international e-discovery that starts with a comity analysis and then applies Zubulake’s two- step cost-shifting test. Furthermore, courts applying this test should enforce cost-shifting orders through an escrow system whereby the requesting party will deposit some of the shifted costs with the court for later disbursement to the producing party. 

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