Effective January 1, 2013, California will align more closely with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding the duration of depositions. On September 17, 2012, the Governor signed into law section 2025.290 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, which will limit the duration of depositions to seven hours.
While the new law limits the duration of a deposition to seven hours—the same length as FRCP Rule 30(d)(1)—the law specifically lacks the FRCP’s limitation that the seven hours of deposition be completed in one day. For litigators, this means that the duration of depositions may have been reigned in significantly, but there is still room to maneuver and strategically spread the deposition across multiple days, if necessary, as long as the total deposition does not exceed seven hours.
The new law does provide for exceptions. For example, the parties may stipulate to waive the seven hour limitation. In addition, the limitation does not apply to certain employee-employer lawsuits. Finally, litigators should note that this new law does not affect existing rights to move for protective orders regarding the duration of a deposition.
When the New Year comes round and you are scheduling that first deposition of 2013, remember to consider the new seven-hour limitation and plan your depositions or stipulate to a waiver accordingly.