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In the federal courts, disclosure requires parties to automatically share routine evidentiary information that would otherwise be available during discovery. Disclosure comes in three stages. First, at the beginning of the suit, each party must disclose:

  • Basic information about each witness the party plans to call
  • Copies of documents and things supporting the party's claims or defenses
  • The party's computations of the damages it plans on requesting
  • Information about any insurance agreements that might cover part or all of a judgment against the party.

Later in the pre-trial process, each party must disclose the identity and qualifications of their expert witnesses. In addition, they must give the other parties a summary of their expert witnesses' reasoning and conclusions regarding the case.

Finally, shortly before trial, each party must disclose what evidence they plan to use at trial. This allows the court to address evidentiary objections before trial.

Disclosure is governed by Rule 26(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Parties are not required to disclose evidence that they plan to use solely for impeachment.

See Civil Procedure.

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]