Lawyer Monthly - June 2022

36 WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | JUN 2022 the need for our team to be brought in. Typically, when an investigation starts there is an immediate need to preserve all evidence which may be relevant to the case. This is the ideal time to bring in a digital forensics team, as it will mitigate the accidental, or deliberate, destruction or loss of evidence. Additional digital evidence can also come to light midway through legal proceedings. At this point, digital forensics specialists may be brought in to investigate additional data or new devices which could be entered into evidence. On occasions such as these, a digital forensics team can act quickly to analyse and advise on the impact of new evidence on a legal strategy. How does your team work with legal counsel? We act as an expert partner to legal counsel, which is a collaborative process. Legal counsel will often have questions they would like us to investigate and present the evidence for – for example, which individuals accessed a certain file on a certain day and through which devices. But we can also provide direction as to where relevant evidence might be discovered, as well as its investigative value and limitations. Our team can also then advise on how this might impact the legal strategy. This is a collaboration that tends to continue throughout legal proceedings, as new arguments and questions need to be investigated. Why is it vitally important that electronic data be preserved by a forensic expert? A forensic expert will preserve the integrity of the evidence. Correct preservation of evidence can be the difference between winning and losing a case. Every action an individual takes when handling the original evidence canmake changes to the evidence state; it is therefore important that they ensure the correct procedures are followed to preserve the integrity of the evidence. In contentious matters, the impartiality an external forensic expert provides can also be valuable. An independent thirdparty forensic provider will provide an impartial examination of the evidence and consequently can be relied upon as an expert in court proceedings. What implications can the quality of this data’s preservation have on subsequent legal proceedings? The integrity and continuity of the evidence will be closely examined in court proceedings and the most subtle changes made by a user, deliberately or otherwise, can bring the full evidential submission into question. If the court finds that it was not handled correctly, the evidence can be ruled inadmissible. As all legal teams know, this can have a drastic impact on case strategy and the chances of winning a case. For this reason, we advise all our clients not to ‘touch’ digital evidence once there are properly trained on how to handle the evidence to ensure data is not destroyed and any findings are admissible in court. In the same way that physical evidence must be stored in evidence bags and have a documented chain of custody, there is a parallel for digital evidence. S-RM’s experts are trained to adhere to the ACPO guidelines throughout the investigative lifecycle. We ensure best practice is followed to mitigate the accidental or malicious destruction of evidence and THE IMPACT OF DIGITAL FORENSICS ON LEGAL PROCEEDINGS The most subtle changes made by a user, deliberately or otherwise, can bring the full evidential submission into question.

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