In a recent letter to Hogan Lovells partner Quentin Archer, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party stated that they had "with great pleasure taken note of the "International Principles on Discovery, Disclosure and Data Protection" published by Working Group 6 of the Sedona Conference for public comment in December 2011." Quentin Archer was co-chair of Working Group 6 at the time the Principles were elaborated.
The Principles were drafted by a team of US and EU specialists with considerable help from the US judiciary and EU data protection officials. They are designed to provide a set of rules which parties to cross-border disputes, courts and regulators can use in an endeavour to bridge the gap between the requirements of the discovery rules in US litigation and the data protection rules in the EU and elsewhere in cases where personal data is required to be transferred from the EU to the US for litigation purposes.
In their letter the Working Party broadly support the Principles, noting in particular the importance of minimising the disclosure of personal data (Principle 3) and the proposal that stipulated protective court orders be used for protecting personal data after disclosure for litigation purposes (Principle 4).
The Working Party note that there is currently no legal basis for the involvement of European Data Protection authorities in US litigation, and that both the US judiciary and EU Data Protection authorities enjoy complete independence. However, they feel that the Principles give the European Data Protection authorities the opportunity to intervene, which is to be welcomed. The Working Party mention difficulties concerning data of non-parties to litigation and the differing notions of processing in the workplace between the US and the EU. However, in the absence of any new international agreement governing responsibilities in the discovery process, the Working Party conclude that the Principles are a "valuable practical step in the right direction".