Australia: Royal Commission readiness

Last Updated: 6 August 2019
Article by Sarah Bell

Given the increase of public scrutiny in relation to issues affecting the broader community, we are hearing more about Royal Commissions as a means of investigation. Royal Commissions are the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance which is why they are being considered in the public domain.

Will your organisation or firm be required to prepare a response to a Notice to Produce for the upcoming Disability Services Royal Commission?

Having supported law firms, in-house legal teams and government departments on 11 of the past 12 Royal Commissions and Inquiries with data audit, collection and document review (and more), Law In Order's team of Royal Commission experts are well placed to ensure you can efficiently and cost-effectively respond to Notices to Produce within required timeframes.

Here are our three key tips for ensuring Royal Commission readiness:

  1. Assemble your Royal Commission Rapid Response Team (RCRRT)

If the industry has learnt anything from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, it was that a Commission can issue notices to produce with seemingly impossible timeframes to provide responses. Get on the front foot by establishing a team of key stakeholders when a Commission or Inquiry is announced and detail their responsibilities and the communication workflow for when Royal Commission Notices to Produce are received.

Key team-members may include your IT or Systems Administrator; your in-house legal team; lawyers within your law firm with Royal Commission experience; forensic data and eDiscovery experts; or external legal counsel.

  1. Get your Data in Order

A comprehensive data audit gives you an overview of systems and stakeholders responsible for potentially relevant data, as well as a clear roadmap of how to quickly retrieve data in a forensically defensible manner when the time arises.

Engage a Forensic Consulting team to work with you to:

  • Develop a collection plan and matrix of all potentially relevant data repositories (physical and electronic) identified by the stakeholders responsible for the management of relevant systems.
  • Assess and develop the optimum collection methodology for the extraction of potentially relevant data, and prioritise the order of data collection and analysis.
  • Develop and conduct a series of Personnel Training sessions so your teams can effectively mobilise internal resources and accurately identify, preserve, collect and transfer data within your environment.

Forensic and eDiscovery experts will also be able to advise on how to collect your data in a defensible manner, so there are no issues further down the track.

  1. Develop your Review Strategy

Depending on the scope of the Notice to Produce and the length of the inquiry, you may be required to review thousands of documents in a short timeframe. eDiscovery technologies and advanced review techniques can reduce data sets in as little as a few hours, saving you review time and costs, and litigation support providers can also help you scale up your review team with qualified first-pass reviewers within a short timeframe. Your eDiscovery expert is best placed to advise on undertaking and producing your review in compliance with set document management protocols and the timeframes required for doing so.

Law In Order has put together a checklist detailing the preparatory steps you can take if your organisation is required to submit information to a Royal Commission. You can download the checklist here.

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