The Discovery Process in Commercial Litigation Cases: What You Need to Know

Discovery is a specific phase of litigation that generally begins after a complaint is filed and the parties have exchanged their initial disclosures. During this stage, the parties exchange information and learn more about their claims and defenses. 

Any non-privileged item that is proportional to the needs of the case is discoverable during litigation. However, the scope of discovery is broader than the scope of admissible evidence, so just because an item is discoverable does not mean it will be admitted into evidence. Discovery is one of the most complex aspects of commercial litigation, so having an experienced North Carolina commercial litigation attorney on your side in these cases is important.

Tools of Discovery

Three primary tools are deployed during discovery: interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admission. Also, depositions are also a discovery tool but they involve deposing a party or non-party under oath for several hours. The first three discovery tools are known as written discovery. 

Understanding Commercial Litigation 

Commercial litigation involves complex entities such as corporations and partnerships which may possess volumes of information. Discovery is integral to these cases because the parties often have an enormous amount of information to share with each other. Insurance contracts may be applicable to a commercial litigation case, and therefore entire insurance policies will need to be produced and examined by the parties. 

Contract disputes are some of the most common types of commercial litigation cases. The parties may need to produce various versions of the contract and exchange electronically stored information. It is difficult to handle all the paperwork in a commercial litigation case on your own. Often, multiple defendants are involved in these cases, and it can be incredibly arduous to organize all the documents associated with them.

Stages of the Discovery Process in Commercial Litigation 

Discovery involves important facts and documents regarding the business dispute. The first stage is the initial disclosure stage. Each party in federal court must exchange their initial disclosures, which include important information about the legal claims asserted by the plaintiff and other factors affecting the case. Next, the parties exchange written discovery, which includes written interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admission. Several sets of these documents may be exchanged back and forth before the parties conduct depositions. 

Parties or non-parties can be deposed, but non-parties must be served with a subpoena. A deposition is the most complex stage of discovery. An attorney will examine a party or non-party under oath for an extended period of time. The testimony is given under oath and under penalty of perjury. The parties typically engage in settlement negotiations or mediation after all of the depositions have been taken.

Key Components of the Discovery Process

Discovery is about obtaining information, and both sides use interrogatories to obtain information about the case. Interrogatories can help parties narrow down issues and become aware of what the other party knows about the legal dispute. 

Depositions are another key component of the discovery process. They enable attorneys to impeach witnesses if the case goes to trial. Therefore, it is necessary for the parties to prepare their clients and other deponents. An attorney can obtain valuable information by conducting an hours-long deposition. 

Rules Governing the Discovery Process

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the discovery process in federal court. State statutes govern the discovery process in different jurisdictions. Procedural rules limit how many interrogatories, requests for admission, and requests for production of documents each party can send to the other. Also, depositions cannot be longer than 7 hours in federal court. 

Get the Help of an Experienced Commercial Litigator

Navigating the complexities of commercial litigation demands the expertise of a seasoned litigator. With a deep understanding of business law and a strategic approach to dispute resolution, an experienced commercial litigator can safeguard your interests and pursue the best possible outcome. Whether you’re facing a contract dispute, partnership disagreement, or any other commercial legal challenge, professional guidance is key.

Ready to protect and advance your business interests? Schedule a consultation with our expert commercial litigators today.