Data copied from a database isn’t the same as database parts.
That’s the key principle laid down by Associate Judge Gendall in the Wellington High Court last month, following a hearing between Fujitsu General NZ and Black Diamond Holdings in April.
Fujitsu argued that as part of the discovery process in a wider case involving Fujitsu and Black Diamond Holdings, Black Diamond was obliged to release a “true copy of all discovered parts” of its database “in a readable and useable form”.
Fujitsu says it only got data copied from the database, not the database parts themselves.
The data was readable, but as for the requirement that it be usable Fujitsu argued it wasn’t, and applied for an order for the database parts themselves to be released.
An expert witness for Fujitsu said he was unable to determine whether the copied data was a complete set of the data in the database parts. Associate Judge Gendall, in his judgement, delivered on May 31, said “the issue before me appears to be whether or not the material supplied by the defendant ... is sufficient to comply with the discovery order”.
“The usual discovery practice in New Zealand for electronic documents is that they are described in a list of documents in the normal way and then produced in hard copy form or on CDs containing specific documents or files which have been downloaded,” he noted.
However, “there are occasions where it is appropriate for one party to seek access to another party’s database and this may include on occasions direct access to the other party’s computer system”.
He cited cases in New Zealand and the US where full access was granted and ruled in Fujitsu’s favour, but with conditions.
“This order must be regulated and appropriate conditions imposed upon the inspection.”
Fujitsu and Black Diamond’s lawyers were instructed to “file appropriate memoranda setting out suggested conditions to be included in the order”.