South Carolina Rules Regarding Expert Witness Depositions and Interrogatories
Under Rule 26(b)(4)(A) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, discovery relating to experts who are expected to testify at trial may be had by any discovery method, including interrogatory and deposition. Depositions in South Carolina are not subject to any express time limit, but under Rule 30(b)(3) the court may lengthen or shorten the time allowed for a deposition for cause.
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South Carolina Expert Witness Reports and Disclosures Rules
The extent of discovery available for experts in South Carolina depends on whether the expert will testify at trial or was retained only for consulting purposes. For the latter group of experts, Rule 26(b)(4)(B) provides for discovery 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. This provision also makes explicit that a party is not required to disclose an expert who was only consulted informally, or consulted but not retained.
For experts expected to be called at trial, the South Carolina rules provide for broad discovery with few requirements or limitations beyond those of other witnesses. As mentioned above, Rule 26(b)(4)(A) provides that discovery relating to experts who are expected to testify at trial may be had by any discovery method. Further, there is no express requirement in South Carolina rules or cases that an expert submit a report.
Rules Regarding Lawyer-Expert Communications, Draft Expert Witness Reports, Expert Witness Notes, Etc. in South Carolina
South Carolina has codified the work product doctrine, protecting against the disclosure of attorney mental impressions and theories prepared in anticipation of litigation, in Rule 26(b)(3). However, while South Carolina cases are sparse in their treatment of this provision as it relates to materials provided to an expert by an attorney, they have suggested that materials that would otherwise be protected work product may become discoverable if considered by an expert in preparing to testify. See generally State Highway Dep’t v. Booker, 195 S.E.2d 615 (S.C. 1973). Therefore a lawyer’s communication of privileged materials to an expert will likely render those materials discoverable.