eDiscovery Federal Rule 26(b)(2): Discovery Scope and Limits

Rule 26. General Provisions Governing Discovery; Duty of Disclosure

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(b) Discovery Scope and Limits.

(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

(2) Limitations on Frequency and Extent.

(A) When Permitted. By order, the court may alter the limits in these rules on the number of depositions and interrogatories or on the length of depositions under Rule 30. By order or local rule, the court may also limit the number of requests under Rule 36.

(B) Specific Limitations on Electronically Stored Information. A party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the party from whom discovery is sought must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, considering the limitations of Rule 26(b)(2)(C). The court may specify conditions for the discovery.

(C) When Required. On motion or on its own, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule if it determines that:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;

(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or

(iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).

Sources: April 29, 2015 Supreme Court Order re FRCP Amendment effective December 1, 2015; United States Courts: Current Rules of Practice and Procedure

Rule 26(b)(2) Summary

Parties do not have to produce electronically stored information (ESI) that is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If the requesting party shows good cause, the court may still order the production of inaccessible documents, subject to certain conditions.

Rule 26(b)(2) Checklist

Confer with your client to determine the cost and expense of producing certain types of data, or archived ESI.

During initial consultations with opposing parties, try to reach an agreement on the definition of what is to be considered "inaccessible."

Pinpoint the subject areas of future requests for inaccessible data.