Working With the Seven-Hour Time Limit for Depositions in Federal Court


So you find yourself involved in a complex civil suit, your opponent designates the same witness as both their Rule 30(b)(6) corporate representative and a fact witness, and the seven hours provided under Rule 30(d)(1) to depose her seem woefully inadequate. Worse, you could even have substantially less than seven hours if there are other parties with aligned interests wanting to take a bite at the apple. What do you do? Obviously, the best solution is to extend the time limit by agreement with the other side, but if they refuse to cooperate, how do you ensure that you have sufficient time to examine the witness?


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally limit depositions to seven hours. Prior to the 2000 Amendments, courts had discretion to adopt local rules modifying the seven-hour time limit. Now, however, the seven-hour time limit proscribed under the rules may only be modified by either court order or stipulation of the parties. Specifically, Rule 30 dictates, "[t]he court must allow additional time consistent with Rule 26(b)(2) if needed for fair examination of the deponent or if the deponent or another person, or other circumstance, impedes or delays the examination." Fed. R. Civ. P. 30 (emphasis added).

Excerpted from the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, November 17, 2010. www.abanet.orgTo read the full article, click here. (member login required)

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