California Dreaming (about Discovery)

Get ready to disclose. On September 30th, California’s legislature passed the Civil Discovery Act (effective January 1, 2024), which authorizes the court to order parties to provide initial disclosures to the other parties within 45 days, with the added bonus of requiring all insurance policies and contracts potentially on the hook.

So what changes?

The Civil Discovery Act does the following:

First, each party appearing in a civil action must provide initial disclosures to other parties to the action within 60 days of a demand, unless modified by the parties’ stipulation.

Second, a party making initial disclosures must disclose all persons or records that are relevant to the subject matter of the action, except as specified, and disclose information and records regarding insurance policies or contracts that would make a person or insurance company liable to satisfy a judgment.

Third, a party who has made, or responded to, a demand for initial disclosures may propound supplemental demands, as specified.

And fourth, initial disclosures must be verified via the written declaration of the party or the party’s authorized representative, or signed by the party’s counsel. (Section 1 specifies that any party not represented by counsel is exempt from these requirements.)

Why do I care?

Alright maybe we should have scanned these documents in before.

On the whole, this Act tightens initial disclosure processes and cracks down on lack of good faith efforts to keep the discovery process chugging along. It also requires parties (and their in-house legal departments) to ready to disclose information and records at the onset of litigation. As we keep tabs on this emerging legislation, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on what we discover.

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