The location of the data is not sufficient to avoid a disclosure order.
When it comes to personal devices, people increasingly communicate across multiple platforms, often in an informal and unguarded manner. However, high levels of litigation driven by the COVID-19 pandemic (including insolvency and restructuring litigation), the recent M&A boom (including shareholder disputes and other transactional litigation), and the rise of remote/hybrid work mean that PE firms must remain alert to the risk of personal device communications being disclosed in litigation.
As seen in recent cases, the English courts place value in contemporaneous written evidence, and take a pragmatic and targeted approach to disclosure. While English courts are mindful of the privacy rights of individuals, they recognise that employees conduct work on personal devices and non-proprietary third-party apps.
However, the location of the data is not sufficient to avoid a disclosure order, and PE firms should consider how to best protect themselves.