Trevor Jefferies and Alvin F. Lindsay comment:
A new decision released on 8 January 2010 from the French high labor court (the Cour de Cassation Chambre Sociale) may provide some grounds for arguing that a party in France can review a French employee’s e-mails and electronically stored information to determine whether the data is relevant to a U.S. litigation, without the employee’s knowledge or presence. This is a significant development in the perennial tension between EU privacy law and U.S. discovery principles.
European Union policies protecting personal privacy almost always conflict with United States policies that grant litigants full and complete discovery of documents and electronically stored information in U.S. court actions. The conflict is particularly acute in France, where a French corporation participating in U.S. litigation may easily run afoul of the French Blocking Statute (Law No. 68-678, as amended), data processing laws (e.g. Law No. 78-17, as amended), and the EU Directive 95/46 on Personal Data (“Directive”), among others.
Read more on Hogan & Hartson: Chronicle of Data Protection.