With a written demand for inspection or production, a party can get the opposing party to produce documents or things for inspection, copying, testing, and sampling. CCP §2031.010. This can be a powerful discovery tool with at least five advantages over other discovery methods.
The major advantages of a written demand for inspection include:
- You can conduct early discovery. The plaintiff may serve a production demand 10 days after the summons is served or the defendant appears, whichever is sooner (CCP §2031.020(b)), instead of waiting 20 days after service of summons to serve a notice to produce at deposition (CCP §2025.210(b)). The defendant may serve a demand on the plaintiff as soon as the action has begun and on any other party when that party is served with the summons and complaint. CCP §2031.020(a).
- It’s less expensive. A production demand is inexpensive when compared with taking a deposition or propounding a set of interrogatories or requests for admission. But of course the cost increases if you have to review (or pay for copying of) voluminous documents, pay for data compilations to be translated into reasonably usable form (see CCP §2031.280(e)), or move to compel production.
- Puts the burden on the responding party. A responding party who claims it can’t comply with a particular demand has to undertake a diligent search and specify why it can’t find the demanded item. CCP §2031.230.
- It accommodates schedules. A production demand allows you to be flexible in arranging the time and place for production.
- No numerical limits and the ability to supplement your demand. Unlike special interrogatories, there’s no statutory limit on the number of times a party can make an inspection demand on another party or on the number of requests within each demand. See CCP §§2031.010–2031.510. And you can make a supplemental demand for any later-acquired or -discovered documents, tangible things, land or other property, or electronically stored information (ESI). CCP §2031.050.
The disadvantages of requests for inspection are that you’re limited to using production demands on parties (CCP §2031.010(a)-(e)) and you usually have to wait at least 30 days after serving the demand to inspect the evidence (see CCP §2031.030(c)(2)), which is longer than if you use a notice to produce at deposition (see CCP §2025.270(a), (c)). These disadvantages can be significant in some cases, but are often relatively minor.
Need help deciding what to include in an inspection demand? Turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice, chap 8. And get step-by-step guidance on making inspection demands in CEB’s Creating Your Discovery Plan (Action Guide).
Other CEBblog™ posts on discovery methods:
- When Production Is Not Enough: Seeking Inspection of a Computer System
- Coordinate Your Discovery Methods
- Discovery Outside the Rules
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