Pennsylvania joins growing number of states that have enacted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act

by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Pennsylvania becomes the 29th state to adopt the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, effective December 24, 2012. The growing number of states that have enacted the UIDDA reflects the trend in litigation of parties seeking discovery beyond the state in which their case is pending and efforts to make that process more efficient.

On October 24, 2012, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed Act 183 of 2012, which amends the Pennsylvania Judicial Code by adopting the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act (the "UIDDA"). When the UIDDA takes effect in Pennsylvania on December 24, 2012, Pennsylvania will join more than 25 states that have enacted it.

The UIDDA is a model uniform law that allows for out-of-state litigants to obtain third-party discovery in Pennsylvania. Since foreign subpoenas lose jurisdiction at the border of their issuing state, the subpoena must be "reissued" in Pennsylvania to be effective within the Commonwealth. The procedure under UIDDA is simple: foreign litigants present their foreign subpoena to the prothonotary (Pennsylvania's title for the civil clerk) "in the jurisdiction in which the person who is the subject of the [subpoena] resides, is employed[,] or regularly transacts business in person." After paying a nominal fee (and complying with local rules) the prothonotary will issue the subpoena for service within its jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania subpoena must incorporate the terms of the foreign one and must contain contact information for all counsel of record and any pro se party. Requesting that a subpoena be issued in Pennsylvania under the UIDDA does not constitute a court appearance, so out-of-state attorneys need not worry about seeking admission pro hac vice.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure govern service and any motion practice related to the Pennsylvania subpoena or its enforcement (including protective orders). This procedure applies both to subpoenas for depositions and subpoenas for documents and things.

Pennsylvania's enactment of the UIDDA replaces decades of arcane, inconsistent practice that involved commissions and letters rogatory. This often created hurdles of significant cost and delay in third-party discovery practice. The UIDDA is intended to streamline that process.

In enacting the UIDDA, Pennsylvania joins 28 states. Jurisdictions in the mid-Atlantic that have adopted the UIDDA — in some form — include Delaware, Maryland, New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C. The growing number of states that have enacted the UIDDA reflect the growing trend in litigation of parties seeking discovery beyond the state in which their case is pending and efforts to make that process more efficient. Saul Ewing's Litigation Department will continue to follow the implementation of the UIDDA along with any further developments in third-party discovery practice.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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