Civil Litigation Discovery Legal Topics Practice of Law

What to Tell Clients When Discovery Starts

starting discovery responsesOnce discovery starts, you’ll need to contact your client to help with responses. Here’s a sample letter to explain what is happening and what you need from your client.

Begin by explaining that the case has reached the discovery stage and what that means. Something like this:

At this stage of the pending action, all parties are subject to procedures called “discovery” that allow each party to obtain information and documents relevant to the case. According to California law, we are required to respond to discovery requests in an honest and forthright manner. I have received a type of discovery demand directed to you called _ _[interrogatories/a request for admission]_ _ from the opposing _ _[counsel/party]_ _, a copy of which is enclosed.

Then, explain the type of discovery (interrogatories or requests for admission) and what has been requested. For example,

Interrogatories are formal written questions that the opposing party wants you to answer. As you will see in the enclosure, there are _ _[specify number, e.g., 30]_ _ interrogatories. Some of them concern documents that you are alleged to have in your possession or to which you have access.

Be sure to give your client a specific deadline by which you need the answers and documents. Remind your client that the answers must be truthful and will be made under penalty of perjury. You may also want to warn your client that there are possible fines and penalties for failing to appropriately respond.

End by explaining that, once you have the client’s answers and documents, you’ll prepare a formal response and set up an appointment to have the client come into the office to review and sign it.

Pay particular attention to the time limits for responding to discovery demands. For example, the responding party generally must answer or object to interrogatories within 30 days after the date of service of the interrogatories. CCP §2030.260(a).

Get many more sample letters for clients in CEB’s California Client Communications Manual: Sample Letters and Forms. For a comprehensive discussion of interrogatories and admission requests, see California Civil Discovery Practice, chaps 7, 9.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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