Informal Discovery Conference
For any business owner, litigation is a hefty investment. However, working with a good lawyer can significantly reduce your legal costs and save valuable time. New rules have established informal discovery sessions that may be used to assist in resolving discovery disagreements and reduce the excessive expense of corporate litigation.
An informal discovery conference can assist in resolving discovery disputes without additional motions and hearings, just like mediation can assist in resolving claims without expensive litigation.
An informal discovery meeting may now be requested by civil plaintiffs per an amendment to the California Code of Civil Section 2016.080. The parties are frequently expected to settle disagreements among themselves, even though the discovery process is still guided by explicit rules and procedures. If they are unable to agree, they must let the court resolve their issues, most commonly through discovery motions. The petitioning party could file a motion to go through the court if the other party refuses to meet their requests. The lawyers would then draft written motions for the court, present their cases during the hearing, and await the judge’s decision, all of which will significantly increase legal fees.
Informal discovery conferences can sometimes be quite effective, but they do not benefit every situation. First, the Act gives the judge the right to refuse the request, thus the court date may not be scheduled at all. Moreover, there is no assurance that it will succeed if it is scheduled. Success largely hinges on the participation and fairness of each party. The parties should submit requests for discovery and allow the court to formally settle the matter if they are unwilling to consider alternative perspectives to those they adopted during discussions.
The success of informal discovery also hinges on the court’s willingness to step in and mediate disputes between the parties without filing formal discovery petitions. The parties will be left where they were before the discovery session and not make much progress on their issues if a judge is reluctant to provide direction or make decisions without formal proceedings. Since informal discovery sessions are still new, some judges are still determining how far they can go in attempting to settle discovery disagreements. Although this hesitation is reasonable, it might hinder the ability to come to an agreement.