By Mark A. Stafford and Candace S. Friel, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
We sometimes think that the drafters of N.C. R. Civ. P. Rule 26(b)(5) sought only to test the pain thresholds of lawyers: Privilege logs are the bane of existence for most attorneys—expensive, time consuming and generally a nuisance. In practice, few of us focus on privilege logs early in the process of obtaining and reviewing client documents, but failing to do so can be dangerous.
Without using the term “privilege log,” N.C. Rule 26(b)(5) (as well as the cognate federal rule) requires that claims of attorney-client privilege, work product, and joint defense or peer review privileges must be invoked at the time of service of the discovery responses or “when the party withholds the information.” This is often made express in case management orders that require a party to serve a privilege log “contemporaneously with its objection.” E.g., Window World of Baton Rouge, LLC v. Window World, Inc., 2019 NCBC LEXIS 54, *89 (N.C. Sup. Ct. Aug. 16, 2019). Not doing so can be deemed a waiver of the privilege.
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