University of Denver

Washington Task Force on the Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation

In January 2011, the Washington State Bar Association created the Task Force on the Escalating Cost of Civil Litigation to assess the costs of civil litigation in Washington state courts and to recommend solutions. In 2013, the Task Force surveyed members of the bar to gain their perspectives on the high costs of civil litigation and approaches to reduce costs.

The Task Force issued its Final Report to the Board of Governors in June 2015. The report identified multiple factors impacting the cost of litigation, including legal fees, case management, case type, access to justice, pro se litigants, and the use of alternative dispute resolution. Recommendations included two-tier litigation, mandatory discovery conferences, mandatory disclosures, proportionality and cooperation, and discovery limits.

The Board of Governors reviewed the Task Force report and issued its own report in July 2016, responding to the various proposals. Among those recommendations that the Board supported: individual judicial assignment for all civil cases, mandatory discovery conferences, mandatory initial disclosures, and the addition of cooperation as a guiding principle. The Board rejected the incorporation of proportionality as a discovery limit, the two-tiered litigation proposal, and presumptive discovery limits, among other proposals. Before convening a rule-drafting group to propose the rules changes necessary to effectuate the support recommendations, the Board of Governors requested guidance from the Supreme Court with respect to Court interest in proceeding.

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