Va. R. Sup. Ct. 4:1

As amended through September 24, 2020
Rule 4:1 - General Provisions Governing Discovery
(a)Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents, electronically stored information, or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.
(b)Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these Rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:
(1) In General. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Subject to the provisions of Rule 4:8 (g), the frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in subdivision (a) may be limited by the court if it determines that:
(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or
(iii) the discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties' resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice to counsel of record or pursuant to a motion under subdivision (c).
(2) Insurance Agreements. A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person (which includes any individual, corporation, partnership or other association) carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this paragraph, an application for insurance will not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.
(3) Trial Preparation: Materials. Subject to the provisions of subdivision (b)(4) of this Rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision (b)(1) of this Rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including his attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of his case and that he is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court must protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 4:12(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (A) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (B) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4) Trial Preparation: Experts; Costs - Special Provisions for Eminent Domain Proceedings. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (b)(1) of this Rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows:
(A)
(i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.
(ii) A party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert whose opinion may be presented at trial, subject to the provisions of subdivision (b)(4)(C) of this Rule concerning fees and expenses.
(iii) Upon motion, the court may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to scope and such provisions, pursuant to subdivision (b)(4)(C) of this Rule, concerning fees and expenses as the court may deem appropriate.
(B) A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.
(C) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the court must require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent and expenses incurred in responding to discovery under subdivisions (b)(4)(A)(ii), (b)(4)(A)(iii), and (b)(4)(B) of this Rule; and (ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (b)(4)(A)(iii) of this Rule the court may require, and with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (b)(4)(B) of this Rule the court must require, the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.
(D) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b)(4)(C) of this Rule, the condemnor in eminent domain proceedings, when it initiates discovery, must pay all reasonable costs thereof, including the cost and expense of those experts discoverable under subdivision (b) of this Rule. The condemnor will be deemed to have initiated discovery if it uses, or gives notice of the use of, any discovery method before the condemnee does so, even though the condemnee subsequently engages in discovery.
(5) Limitations on Discovery in Certain Proceedings. In any proceeding (1) for separate maintenance, divorce, or annulment of marriage, (2) for the exercise of the right of eminent domain, or (3) for a writ of habeas corpus or in the nature of coram nobis;
(a) the scope of discovery extends only to matters which are relevant to the issues in the proceeding and which are not privileged; and
(b) no discovery is allowed in any proceeding for a writ of habeas corpus or in the nature of coram nobis without prior leave of the court, which may deny or limit discovery in any such proceeding. In any proceeding for divorce or annulment of marriage, a notice to take depositions must be served in the Commonwealth by an officer authorized to serve the same, except that, in cases where such suits have been commenced and an appearance has been made on behalf of the defendant by counsel, notices to take depositions may be served in accordance with Rule 1:12.
(6) Claims of Privilege or Protection of Trial Preparation Materials.
(i) When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable under these rules by claiming that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation material, the party must make the claim expressly and must describe the nature of the documents, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection.
(ii) If a party believes that a document or electronically stored information that has already been produced is privileged or its confidentiality is otherwise protected the producing party may notify any other party of such claim and the basis for the claimed privilege or protection. Upon receiving such notice, any party holding a copy of the designated material must sequester or destroy its copies thereof, and may not duplicate or disseminate such material pending disposition of the claim of privilege or protection by agreement, or upon motion by any party. If a receiving party has disclosed the information before being notified of the claim of privilege or other protection, that party must take reasonable steps to retrieve the designated material. The producing party must preserve the information until the claim of privilege or other protection is resolved.
(7) Electronically Stored Information. A party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information ("ESI") from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the party from whom discovery is sought has the burden of showing that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, considering the limitations of Rule 4:1(b)(1). The court may specify conditions for the discovery, including allocation of the reasonable costs thereof.

If the party receiving a discovery request anticipates that it will require the production of ESI and that an ESI protocol is needed, then within 21 days of being served with the request, or within 28 days of service of requests served with the Complaint, the receiving party should propose an ESI protocol that addresses: (A) an initial list of custodians or the person(s) with knowledge of the party's custodians and the location of ESI, (B) a date range, (C) production specifications, (D) search terms, and (E) the identification and return of inadvertently revealed privileged materials. If the proposed protocol is not acceptable, the parties must in good faith attempt to meet within 15 days from service of the protocol on the party requesting the ESI. If, after 15 days from service of the protocol, the parties are unable to agree to limits on the discovery of the ESI, on motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the court will, in its discretion, determine appropriate limitations or conditions on the ESI request, if any, including allocation of the reasonable costs thereof.

(8) Pre-Motion Negotiation. A motion under this Rule must be accompanied by a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action.
(c)Protective Orders. Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, accompanied by a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action, and for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending or alternatively, on matters relating to a deposition, the court in the county or city where the deposition is to be taken, may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
(1) that the discovery not be had;
(2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;
(3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;
(4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters;
(5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court;
(6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court;
(7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way;
(8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 4:12(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(d)Sequence and Timing of Discovery.
(1) Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, will not operate to delay any other party's discovery.
(2) Discovery continues after a demurrer, plea or dispositive motion addressing one or more claims or counter-claims has been filed and while such motion is pending decision - unless the court in its discretion orders that discovery on some or all issues in the action should be suspended.
(e)Supplementation of Responses. A party who has responded to a request for discovery is under a duty to supplement or correct the response to include information thereafter acquired in the following circumstances.
(1) A party is under a duty promptly to amend and/or supplement all responses to discovery requests directly addressed to (A) the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and (B) the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and the substance of the expert's testimony, when additional or corrective information becomes available.
(2) A party is under a duty promptly to amend and/or supplement all other prior responses to interrogatories, requests for production, or requests for admission if the party learns that any such response is in some material respect incomplete or incorrect and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing.
(3) A court may order, or the parties may agree to provide, supplementation in addition to that required in subsections (1) and (2) of this subpart (e).
(4) A party may supplement a prior discovery response by filing an updated response labelled "Supplemental" or "Amended", or by otherwise notifying all other parties of the updated information in writing, signed by counsel of record.
(f)Service Under This Part. Except for the service of the notice required under Rule 4:2(a)(2), any notice or document required or permitted to be served under this Part Four must be served as provided in Rule 1:12 except that any notice or document permitted to be served with the initial pleading may be served (or accepted) in the same manner as such pleading.
(g)Signing of Discovery Requests, Responses, and Objections. Every request for discovery or response or objection thereto made by a party represented by an attorney must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, whose address must be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney must sign the request, response, or objection, and state the party's address. The signature of the attorney or party constitutes a certification that the signer has read the request, response, or objection, and that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after a reasonable inquiry it is:
(1) consistent with these Rules and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for extension, modification, or reversal of existing law;
(2) not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and
(3) not unreasonable or unduly burdensome or expensive, given the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in controversy and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. If a request, response, or objection is not signed, it will be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party making the request, response, or objection, and a party is not be obligated to take any action with respect to it until it is signed.

If a certification is made in violation of the rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, may impose upon the person who made the certification, the party on whose behalf the request, response, or objection is made, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the violation, including a reasonable attorney's fee.

Va. Sup. Ct. 4:1

Amended by order dated October 31, 2008, effective January 1, 2009; amended by order dated February 26, 2010, effective May 3, 2010; amended by order dated November 1, 2016, effective January 1, 2017; amended October 31, 2018, effective January 1, 2019; amended by order dated September 3, 2020, effective September 3, 2020.