With UIDDA, Pa. Joins Bandwagon To Simplify Third-Party Discovery

The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly

Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of states that have adopted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act. Promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 2007 and codified at 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 5331-37, the UIDDA establishes an efficient and inexpensive procedure for out-of-state attorneys attempting to serve subpoenas in Pennsylvania for discovery to be used in an action pending in another state. The UIDDA applies to requests for both depositions and documents from Pennsylvania witnesses, and the description of a subpoena in the act is based on the language of Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

"Subpoena," as that term is defined in 42 Pa. C.S. § 5333, means a "document, however denominated, issued under authority of a court of record requiring a person to: (1) attend and give testimony at a deposition, hearing or trial; (2) produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, documents, records, electronically stored information or tangible things in the possession, custody or control of the person; or (3) permit inspection of premises under the control of the person."

The Uniform Law Comment notes that the term "subpoena" does not include a subpoena for the inspection of a person, and medical examinations are separately controlled by state discovery rules. While 31 other jurisdictions have also adopted the UIDDA, it does not apply to foreign countries, including Canadian provinces.

A prefatory note to the UIDDA explains that the rules governing foreign depositions in every state differ in significant ways. For example, some states restrict the use of foreign depositions to judicial proceedings, while others permit their use for any proceeding. Some states permit subpoenas to cover testimony or documents and other physical things while other states limit production to documents. All of these nuances make out-of-state, third-party discovery confusing, costly and time-consuming. Moreover, such discovery is increasingly common in today's litigation environment.

According to the Uniform Law Commission, the UIDDA is intended to improve on current state procedures in four ways: (1) efficiency; (2) expense; (3) minimized judicial oversight; and (4) clear rules regarding discovery. The UIDDA increases efficiency because the clerk in the state where the deposition or discovery is being sought acts in a purely ministerial role, but in a way sufficient to invoke...

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