30(b)(6)

refers to Rule 30(b)(6) of the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party in litigation in U.S. federal courts to take the deposition of a corporation or other entity. The corporation may designate one or more individuals for the various topics that are the subject of the deposition. In essence a 30(b)(6) deponent is an executive, who as a witness speaks for the company, usually only on specified topics relating to the case.  Those topics will normally be set forth in a 30(b)(6) ‘notice,’ which must “describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination.”  What that means is that in practice the 30(b)(6) notice must “designate, with painstaking specificity, the particular subject areas that are intended to be questioned, and that are relevant to the issues in dispute” — it cannot just ask for anything relevant to the case.

If the 30(b)(6) notice covers subjects relevant to the case a company usually must produce a witness or witnesses prepared to answer subjects on those issues.  However, the standard deposition objections may be raised to improper questions – and defending counsel can object to a question outside the scope of the 30(b)(6) notice (though this would normally be a soft objection.)  Failure to produce a witness or witnesses able to answer questions within the scope of the 30(b)(6) notice is potentially sanctionable.

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