In the recent decision of In re Oxbow Carbon LLC Unitholder Litig., Consol. C.A. No 12447-VCL (Del. Ch. March 13, 2017), Vice Chancellor Laster provides a comprehensive review of pretrial discovery rules before the Delaware Court of Chancery. This opinion is an excellent roadmap for conducting discovery in Delaware, and contains a treasure-trove of citations, authorities and maxims that would aid any Chancery practitioner.
Several quotes of import from this decision are as follows:
- “The scope of discovery pursuant to Court of Chancery Rule 26(b) is broad and farreaching . . . .”
- Relevance “must be viewed liberally,” and discovery into relevant matters should be permitted if there is “any possibility that the discovery will lead to relevant evidence.”
- When a party objects to providing discovery, “[t]he burden is on the objecting party to show why and in what way the information requested is privileged or otherwise improperly requested.”
- Generic and formulaic objections “are insufficient.”
- In short, “[o]bjections should be plain enough and specific enough so that the Court can understand in what way the discovery is] claimed to be objectionable.”
- Objection to requests as “excessive, overbroad, and unduly burdensome” is insufficient. “The objecting party must show specifically how each discovery request is burdensome or oppressive by submitting affidavits or offering evidence revealing the nature of the burden.”
Consistent with the recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing discovery, this decision reinforces the notion that vague, generic and boiler-plate objections to discovery requests will simply not be tolerated by the Court of Chancery.
Carl D. Neff is a partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Carl is admitted in the State of Delaware and regularly practices before the Delaware Court of Chancery, with an emphasis on shareholder disputes. You can reach Carl at (302) 622-4272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.