Litigation can be time-consuming and financially stressful for business owners. That is why most businesses try to handle any disputes outside of court, whether through mediation or arbitration.
It is not always possible to avoid litigation, but business owners might be able to reach settlements during the discovery phase. This is an important process, but business owners must be careful.
What is discovery?
Discovery is the process where both parties collect information and evidence to prove their claims. This evidence often includes:
- Witness accounts;
- Emails or messages;
- Recorded accounts of conversations; and
- Information about the business.
In some cases, the other party may have to request evidence from the business during discovery. Business owners must generally provide this information, but there are times when it is not necessary.
Business owners can object to discovery requests
There are a few instances when business owners can protest a discovery request from the other party. These circumstances include:
- If the request is too broad;
- If the information requested is not relevant to the dispute;
- If the information is protected by attorney-client privilege; and
- If producing the information is an undue hardship, particularly if the evidence is not relevant to the case.
Discovery should focus only on relevant information and evidence. So, objecting to irrelevant requests can help make the process more efficient. However, the other party can also object to this objection. This could result in more disputes, which most business owners wish to avoid.
Therefore, business owners must be prepared if they object to a request. They must ensure:
- Their objection is valid under California law and the reasons above; and
- They have evidence that the requested information is irrelevant.
Business owners should remember that discovery is a critical process. Many times, it can help both parties reach an agreement before taking the dispute to trial.