What is a Request for Production of Documents?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 10 February 2020
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A request for production of documents is a request made by a party to civil litigation for the opposing party to present certain documents to him or her for examination. The request is governed by the rules of discovery, which dictate what evidence is subject to examination by the opposing party during litigation. These rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but generally any non-privileged matter that is relevant to either party’s claim or defense is discoverable through a request for production of documents. Upon receipt of the request, the receiving party may grant or deny the requesting party the right to inspect the identified documents.

A request for production of documents is something that is generally presented during discovery, the stage of litigation that involves each party collecting and organizing his or her respective evidence in preparation for the trial. During discovery, anything that is not privileged that pertains to the case is typically discoverable. Any documents that were not created by the opposing attorney in anticipation of litigation are typically non-privileged for the purposes of discovery.

A typical request for production of documents will be comprehensive in its identification of the documents to be presented. Generally, it will request all writings pertaining to the party and identify such writings as encompassing everything from handwritten notes, to financial records, to schedules. The burden is then on the receiving party to either provide copies of all the documents requested or refuse on the grounds that they are privileged.


Once the request for production of documents is granted, the requesting party will typically receive copies of all documents requested for his or her review. These documents may then be used to build his or her case against the other party or defense from the charges offered. The scope of the documents that are discoverable is much greater than what is admissible in court, so the documents must be carefully reviewed in order to determine their potential for use in court. If there are any questions about documents provided in response to a request for production of documents, then the party may request an evidentiary hearing to determine the admissibility of the documents.

If the receiving party denies the requesting party’s request for production of documents in whole or in part, then he or she may file a motion to compel production of the documents. A motion to compel production is a request upon the court to order the receiving party to produce the documents requested. If the court does not grant a protective order to the receiving party in regard to the documents he or she denied to provide, then he or she will be forced to provide the requesting party with the documents or potentially face being held in contempt of court.


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