Commercial division udpate: Use and abuse of confidentiality orders

Publication December 31, 2018

Confidentiality orders have become a routine part of commercial litigation. CPLR Section 3103(a) allows parties to seek a protective order “denying, limiting, conditioning or regulating the use of discovery devices . . . to prevent unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment, disadvantage, or other prejudice to any person . . . .” In addition to restricting the distribution and use of sensitive documents exchanged in discovery, in exceptional circumstances confidentiality orders can limit access to an “Attorneys’ Eyes Only” basis, barring litigation counsel from disclosing the designated materials to their clients. While confidentiality orders are valuable tools in protecting competitive and other sensitive information, they are subject to abuse. Aggressive or inattentive counsel can overdesignate those documents that are protected, adding burden and expense to the opposing party. Indeed, in a recent Commercial Division case, Google was sanctioned for just that. This decision sends a stern reminder to litigation counsel of the need to be well-versed on the applicable rules and standards, which we address below.

While confidentiality orders are valuable tools in protecting competitive and other sensitive information, they are subject to abuse. Aggressive or inattentive counsel can overdesignate those documents that are protected, adding burden and expense to the opposing party. Indeed, in a recent Commercial Division case, Google was sanctioned for just that. This decision sends a stern reminder to litigation counsel of the need to be well-versed on the applicable rules and standards.

Read the full update.

Recent publications

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest legal news, information and events...