Litigation can be time-consuming, expensive and stressful for business owners. While it is not always possible to avoid litigation, a party might be able to reach settlements during the discovery phase of litigation.
WHAT IS DISCOVERY?
Discovery is the process where both parties collect information and evidence to prove their claims and/or disprove the other party’s claims. This evidence often includes witness statements, documentary items such as notes, letters, emails and text messages, recorded conversations, and information about the business.
This information may be obtained by five main methods:
- Form Interrogatories (general written questions on a standard form approved by the California Judicial Counsel);
- Special Interrogatories (case-specific written questions typically prepared by your attorney);
- Request for Documents (case-specific written questions typically prepared by your attorney); and
- Request s for Admissions (case-specific written true or false statements typically prepared by your attorney); and
- Depositions (a stenographically recorded question and answer session conducted by one of the party’s lawyers of a party of witness under oath).
BUSINESS OWNERS CAN OBJECT TO DISCOVERY REQUESTS
A party can object to an improper discovery request from the other party on the basis that the request:
- Is too broad;
- Not relevant to the dispute;
- Seeks information that is protected by attorney-client privilege; and
- Is unduly burdensome.
While failing to object may waive your right to later protest an improper request, an improper objection could cause a lengthy dispute that may result in a motion to compel a response to an objected to request.
Business owners should remember that discovery is a critical process that is sometimes lengthy and expensive, but it also provides an opportunity to resolve the underlying dispute before taking the dispute all the way to trial.