Understanding and Complying With Disclosures under Rule 26(A)

Legal Compliance Resource
February 18, 2013 — 948 views  

Rule 26(A) of the Federal Laws of legal proceedings deals with required disclosure of evidence and electronic information. It outlines the duty of parties involved in legal proceedings to disclose any and all information related to the case in question.

The first part of this rule deals with initial disclosures. It mentions what details MUST be disclosed by parties involved, and also speaks about the pardonable exceptions. These documents and files are disclosed as a way of benchmarking data against the opposing party or parties. 

Information that should be Disclosed

- Name, contact number, and address of every individual with information that either party might use to defend their claims.
- Copies of every document, including information stored electronically, as well as tangible evidences that either party has possession of and might produce as evidence.
- A list of every category of claims and damages that the party is demanding, and all documents or evidence that is not classified as protected or privileged.
- Any insurance agreements that states that an insurance company might have to be held liable and satisfy part or all of a potential judgment.

Exemptions

The only exemptions that are made for the above are in the following cases, as discussed in 26(A)(1)(B):

- Action to be reviewed in administrative record
- A habeas corpus petition or similar proceedings that seeks to challenge criminal conviction
- Action brought by a person, without an attorney, who is held in custody by the United States, State or State subdivision.
- Action that seeks to quash or enforce a summons or subpoena
- Action to recover a benefits payment, by the United States
- Action to collect student loans, as promised by the United States
- A case that is secondary to another case in a different court
- Action that enforces awarding of arbitration

This Rule also contains an appendix which is concerned with Electronic Discovery Guidelines.

- Existence of electronic information: The counsel should be aware of the client’s records management systems and their operation including how information is stored and received. The counsel must also attempt to review the client’s electronic information files to ascertain their contents.

- Duty to disclose: All disclosed information as per 26(A)(1) should include electronic information. The counsel should review the client’s electronic information to make sure that all necessary information is disclosed. This includes current files, back-up files, archival files, and legacy files.

- Duty to notify: A party that seeks computer-based information shall notify the opposing party and should clearly identify which category of information is being sought.

- Duty to meet and confer regarding electronic information: All parties should confer and inform one another on the following:

1)    Retrieving computer-based information in general

2)    Retrieving e-mail information

3)    Retrieving deleted information

4)    Retrieving back-up and archival data

5)    Anticipated costs for disclosure of data

6)    Format and media for production of electronic information

7)    Agreements regarding privileged material

Rule 26(A) is extensive and detailed and the above-mentioned parameters are just a few of the salient points of this rule. There are outlined exceptions, deadlines for disclosure, basis for initial disclosure, disclosure of expert testimony, and many other important factors discussed in this rule that should be thoroughly read through.

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