Discovery of documents in Federal Courts

On 10 May 2010 the Government requested the ALRC to explore options to improve the discovery process in civil litigation to promote the early and proportionate exchange of information and evidence in court proceedings.

The Commission was requested to consider how law reform in this area could improve the ability of parties to identify the real issues in dispute and ensure the costs of resolution are proportionate to the issues involved.

The Final Report, Managing Discovery: Discovery of Documents in Federal Courts (ALRC Report 115), was tabled on 25 May 2011.

Key recommendations

The net effect of the recommendations, if implemented, will be that:

  • judicial officers are encouraged and supported in their role as robust case managers;
  • parties and practitioners will have a clearer understanding of what is expected of them in relation to discovery obligations;
  • the scope of discovery will be defined more clearly and in the context of an understanding of how information is stored and can be accessed; and
  • the clarity of expectations and certainty in obligations will help to maintain proportionality in discovery costs.