The Luck of the Irish…and Predictive Coding
On this St. Patrick’s Day, it’s opportune to revisit a prominent Irish judicial opinion – in fact, the first known judicial opinion in Europe to endorse predictive coding.
In the spring of 2015, Ireland embraced predictive coding in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd v. Quinn  IEHC 175, a case holding that, in the discovery of large data sets, technology assisted review (TAR) using predictive coding is at least as accurate as, and probably more accurate than, the manual or linear method of identifying relevant documents.
The judgment is a great read for predictive coding pundits and a shining endorsement of the potential benefits of this technology. Specifically, the court held that:
- The rules of court in Ireland do not require a manual document review to be carried out;
- The evidence establishes that in discovery of large data sets, TAR using predictive coding is at least as accurate as, and probably more accurate than, the manual or linear method in identifying relevant documents;
- As TAR combines man and machine, the process must contain appropriate checks and balances which render each stage capable of independent verification. The parties need to agree to these;
- Provided the process has sufficient transparency, TAR using predictive coding discharges a party’s discovery obligations;
- Predictive coding will save time and money if used to refine a data set and to limit the pool of documents to be manually reviewed. It was projected that 10% of the 680,809 documents would need to be manually reviewed after employing predictive coding, as compared to the traditional linear review estimate that required a team of 10 experienced reviewers, a nine month time frame and a cost of two million Euros; and
- Parties should first agree to the use of predictive coding, run agreed upon keyword searches to initially refine the data set and then use predictive coding subject to agreed-upon checks and balances. Documents suggested by the software as being potentially relevant should then be reviewed manually by a human review team.
The ruling addressed major concerns expressed about predictive coding and sought to sway the skeptics. It unequivocally stated that predictive coding will save time and money. Although there is no specific reference to proportionality in Irish law, the judgment stated that cost should not be a barrier on access to justice.
The Irish opinion relied significantly on Judge Peck’s Da Silva Moore opinion, setting the predictive coding tone in the United States in 2012. A year after Ireland’s Quinn opinion, the U.K. would celebrate its first judicial opinion referencing predictive coding when the English High Court issued Pyrrho Investments Ltd. v. MWB Property Ltd.  EWHC 256 (Ch). In that case, Master Matthews estimated that predictive coding would offer significant cost savings and that the possible disclosure of over two million documents done via traditional manual review would be disproportionate and “unreasonable.” Late in 2016, Australia joined the list of countries tackling predictive coding issues when Justice Vickery from the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria issued a key opinion in McConnell Dowell Constructors v. Santam.