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In California, can one side in a lawsuit refuse to communicate via email and insist on hand-delivered mail or U.S. postal mail?

Los Angeles, CA |
Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes

That's the question. Is it legally mandatory, at least if one side wants it, for the two sides to make all communications by mail or by hand-delivery? Are all communications required to meet the standards of service of a summons and complaint?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    If you are asking about just service of documents, then Mr. Daymude is correct. If you are asking about just correspondence in general, then the request is highly irregular.

    Attorneys and parties sometimes do state that all communications must be in writing after they have determined that they cannot trust their adversary to remember the conversation accurately. I have never heard of anyone refusing to allow communication with email. Attorneys no longer have the staff to prepare and mail every piece of correspondence. I think a court would not look favorably upon litigants who say that some communication they received did not count because it was by email.

  2. Electronic service of documents in CA courts depends on consent. If a party has not agreed to accept electronic service of documents, service must be done via a method that does not require consent, i.e., personal service or via U.S. mail. See CRC Rule 2.251 here:

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

  3. Yes, they can refuse. Attorney Daymude is correct.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

  4. I agree with Mr Eschen. I would add that requiring communication to be written but not emailed drastically increases communication time, making it wholly unworkable in today's practice. Any court that eventually got involved would think that was ridiculous.

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