What is an Informal Discovery Conference?

Informal resolution of discovery disputes is a centerpiece of California civil practice, requiring civil litigants to make “a serious attempt to obtain an informal resolution of each issue.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2025(o).)

This rule is designed “to encourage the parties to work out their differences informally so as to avoid the necessity for a formal order.” (McElhaney v. Cessna Aircraft Co. (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 285, 289, 184 Cal.Rptr. 547.) “This, in turn, will lessen the burden on the court and reduce the unnecessary expenditure of resources by litigants through promotion of informal, extrajudicial resolution of discovery disputes.” (Townsend v. Super. Ct. (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1431, 1435.)

Legal Standard

The Legislature passed AB 383, which adds Section 2016.080 to the Code of Civil Procedure, effective January 1, 2018. According to this section, “[i]f an informal resolution is not reached by the parties, as described in Section 2016.040, the court may conduct an informal discovery conference upon request by a party or on the court's own motion for the purpose of discussing discovery matters in dispute between the parties.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2016.080(a).)

A determination of whether an attempt at informal resolution is adequate involves the exercise of discretion. (Stewart v. Colonial Western Agency, Inc. (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 1006, 1012-1013.) Among the factors the court should consider are the history of the litigation, the nature of the interaction between counsel, the nature of the issues, the type and scope of discovery requested, and the prospects for success. (Id.) A trial judge's perceptions on such matters, inherently factual in nature at least in part, must not be lightly disturbed. (Id.)

Timelines

“If an informal discovery conference is granted or ordered, the court may toll the deadline for filing a discovery motion.” (Code of Civ. Proc., § 2016.080(c)(2).)

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