At its root, today’s word holds an infinity of potential, but, rather ironically, it can only happen once per occasion. Whether it is being used with regard to humanity-altering discoveries or if it is just finding that one piece of information that you were lacking, discovery can come in all shapes and sizes and all needed is someone willing to spend the time and effort looking for it.
Arriving in English from the Old French descovrir, which means ‘uncover or unveil,’ our word is typically defined as: “the action of finding out or becoming aware of something for the first time (aka something previously unknown to us).”
Brilliantly, the first known usage of the word comes from one of history’s most substantial discoveries – that of the New World – and appears in a 1527 letter addressed to Robert Thorne used in English writer Richard Hakluyt’s work promoting European colonisation, Divers Voyages (1582), which states: “I reason, that as some sicknesses are hereditarious,..so this inclination or desire of this discovery I inherited of my father.”
Though generically encompassed by the aforementioned definition, several decades after its initial introduction into the English language, the term began to be used in a strictly legal sense as a way of disclosing relevant information, as can be seen in Richard Cosin’s An Apologie: Of, and for Sundrie Proceedings by Iurisdiction Ecclesiasticall (1591), which reminds that: ”The judge..may exact such necessarie oaths of the other party, importing oftentimes discovery of matters criminal and penal to himself.”
In the truest sense of the word, discovery will always be a part of business, but, in the legal sense of the word, business has to adapt to meet a changing and increasingly competitive marketplace. With litigation costs projected to break USD 20 billion by 2018 and the overwhelming majority of information now coming in electronic format, the future of legal discovery for the global marketplace will be e-discovery. Hastening the development of ediscovery, companies are increasingly forced to deal with bet-the-company litigation as well as cross-border litigation.
Essentially, more companies are at risk due to litigation, which makes obtaining and understanding data all the more necessary; however, especially with cross-border issues, the language barrier can easily overcome even a substantially-sized e-discovery operation. In order to take advantage of all available knowledge and to make litigation as predictable and beneficial as possible, businesses need to allocate significant resources toward not only e-discovery but also translation services which can generate a better grasp, regardless of language.