Rule 26: Everything you need to know.

So, what’s going on with Rule 26?

In late 2015 some important amendments were issued regarding the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, modifying the way that legal teams are required to manage the discovery process in litigation. These Rule 26 amendments had initially been submitted in a package to Congress on April 29, 2015 and have been in effect since December 1, 2015 — but how do they change your discovery process?

What Has Rule 26 Changed in Terms of Discovery?

Before Rule 26, the scope of discovery was a fairly broad one. Discovery could be introduced not only for materials that were relevant to litigation, but also to materials that led to admissible evidence, within reason. In effect, discovery could cover anything that was at all related to the case, as it only had to lead to something that was relevant to the case. For practical purposes, discovery could still be limited in a few specific situations through Rule 26(b)(2)(C). If the materials being requested could otherwise be discovered or were unreasonably excessive, the courts could limit the discovery. The courts could also choose to limit discovery if the seeking party had already had the opportunity to recover these materials or if the burden of recovering these documents was disproportionate to the perceived value of these documents. Essentially, though the scope of discovery was fairly broad, it could still be argued and limited by the courts.

The amendments to Rule 26 have substantially changed what is considered to be within the scope of discovery. In the past, Rule 26 stated:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense.

The new amended Rule 26(b)(l) continues with:

…and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties’ resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

In other words, there is now a built in modification to Rule 26 that specifies that discovery must be proportional to the case at hand.

The Impact of the Rule 26 Amendment

Many legal professionals believe that the scope shift within Rule 26 will only lead to arguments regarding proportionality. Prior to the amendments, courts would hear any objections regarding discovery, including whether or not the discovery was proportional to the crime and whether the proposed discovery would be excessive in relation to its potential benefits. Rule 26 will still allow both sides of litigation to defend their reasons for including certain materials within discovery, and thus will not change the structure of the discovery process — only its intended scope and emphasis.

In other words, despite the recent changes to Rule 26, it’s very likely that firms on both sides of litigation will still need to involve a substantial number of documents and materials within their discovery process. And this often means organizing and pouring through countless documents. Platinum IDS can help your firm design and implement a safe, secure, and above all efficient document delivery system that will take into account recent Rule 26 changes and make it easier than ever for you to send and procure documents that are considered to be relevant to discovery — even if the scope may seem excessive.

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