Informal Discovery Conferences

AdobeStock_257476584-300x200Litigation is a costly enterprise for any business owner. It is important to work with an experienced business litigator who knows how to mitigate litigation expenses wherever possible. New statutes – such as the one that creates informal discovery conferences – can be used to help resolve discovery disputes and mitigate the over cost of business litigation.

What is an Informal Discovery Conference?

Recently, the California Code of Civil Procedure was amended to allow civil litigants to request an informal discovery conference. While the discovery process is governed by clear rules and procedures, the parties are often expected to resolve differences amongst themselves. If they cannot, they must let the court decide their differences. This is traditionally done by discovery motions. If, for example, one party refused to procedure a document requested by the other, the requesting party could file a motion to compel with the court. The attorneys would then prepare written motions to the court, make arguments at the hearing, and wait for the judge’s ruling. All of this results in added attorney’s’ fees.

Section 2016.080 now allows either party to request that the court hold an informal discovery conference. In the same way that mediation can help resolve claims without costly litigation, an informal discovery conference can help resolve discovery disputes without added motions and hearings.

Do They Work?

Much like mediation, informal discovery conferences are sometimes very helpful and efficient – and sometimes not. First, the statute grants a judge authority to decline the request, which means that a litigant may not get the conference at all. If it is scheduled, there is no guarantee of success. This largely depends on how reasonable each party is willing to be. If the parties are unwilling to consider positions other than those they took in negotiations, then they might as well file discovery motions and let the court decide the issue formally (and definitively).

Success also depends on how much the court is willing to intervene to resolve their differences without formal discovery motions. If a court is unwilling to give much guidance or hesitant to make rulings without formal motions, then the parties will be left where they were without the discovery conference and not make much headway on their disputes. Because informal discovery conferences are relatively new, some judges are still exploring the boundaries of their ability to mitigate discovery disputes. This hesitancy is understandable, but it can make it difficult to reach agreements.

Experienced California Business Lawyers Can Save You Legal Costs With Efficient Discovery Conferences

An experienced business litigator knows how to mitigate your litigation expenses while still protecting your legal rights. At Structure Law Group, we know how to use mediation and informal discovery conferences to prevent unnecessary delays. We also know when to protect your legal rights by demanding formal court rulings. Call (408) 441-7500 to schedule a consultation. The sooner you have an experienced business litigator representing your legal interests, the better you will be able to strike a balance between efficient litigation and protecting your legal rights.