How to File A Motion To Compel

 In Practice Pointers

How To File A Motion To Compel (Checklists and Guides)

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Legal parties aren’t always cooperative. While the law might state they must supply information to you before a trial, they can be noncompliant.

These tactics are understandable, but they don’t always fall within the scope of the law. Parties may be breaching proper procedures and could face court sanctions, such as the imposition of legal fees or contempt of court charges where noncompliance persists.

Motion-to-compel tools are essential for ensuring justice. These assist with information discovery by getting the court to force the opposing side to release data pertinent to the case. Understanding how to use these effectively can thwart other parties and force them to submit legally required information. 

When To File A Motion To Compel

There are numerous situations in which filing a motion to compel becomes essential. Here are some examples when you may need to use one.

Parties Are Unresponsive To Interrogatories

In some cases, parties will be unresponsive to interrogatories. Opposing sides will not provide requested information or documentation and fail to give an acceptable legal response.

Failing to provide answers to interrogatories can severely hinder your capacity to prepare for a trial and put your client’s case at risk. Lacking timely information in the courtroom could undermine your strategy and render your case irrelevant or ineffective.

Parties Won’t Produce Documents

You may also need a motion to compel if parties refuse to supply suitable documentation. Not offering paperwork jeopardizes a fair outcome and encourages misconduct by the opposing team. It can also delay resolutions to cases, dragging out proceedings unnecessarily for everyone.

Parties Are Deliberately Obstructing Information Discovery

Parties deliberately obstructing information discovery is another circumstance where a motion to compel might become necessary. Opposition attorneys may withhold information to protect their defendant or make blatantly frivolous objections with no standing in case law.

How To File A Motion To Compel

If the opposing party fails to cooperate or you suspect foul play, you should file a motion to compel. It upholds proper legal practices and ensures the fairest outcome for your client.

However, filing such motions is challenging and requires following a strict legal process. You must adhere to it correctly to avoid further objections or delays with the court.

Here’s what to do:

Meet And Confer With The Opposing Party

Before filing a motion to compel, you must exhaust other avenues of communication with the opposing party. Meeting and conferring with them shows you exhibited good faith in trying to resolve the discovery issue.

Ensure you document this meeting in writing to submit it to the court later. Include things like the topic of conversation and any agreements you make with the parties involved.

Prepare Your Motion To Compel

If parties still fail to comply with your discovery requests, you should prepare a motion to compel. Ensure you follow established formats to avoid confusion or rejection for failing to provide the correct information.

A motion to compel contains:

  • The name of the court.

  • The docket number.

  • The names, addresses, and details of the parties involved.

  • A summary of the case that provides context.

  • A list of discovery requests the opposing party did not comply with.

  • A list of accompanying reasons explaining any non-compliance.

  • Reasons why the court should support discovery.

The last element is critical. Courts will only issue a motion to compel if you can provide reasonable cause for the opposing party to comply with your request.

Acceptable reasons courts may accept include things like:

  • Failure to release medical records relevant to a case

  • Failure to supply expert deposition questions

  • Getting in the way of discovery by abusing the rules of conventional legal proceedings to cause delay or incur higher costs on the opposing party

  • Failure to take part in depositions

  • Failure to supply documents relevant to the case

The more accurate you can make your objective, the more likely the court will grant your motion to compel. Whatever reason you choose must align with the circumstances of the case.

Serve The Motion

Once you complete filling out the motion to compel the application, the court will consider it. It will also explore the opposing party’s objections in response to your original petition.

You can serve motions electronically to most courts nowadays. However, many also accept paper documentation. Regardless of your chosen method, always send a copy to the opposing party’s law office.

Go To The Hearing

Sometimes, opposing parties will not comply with the motion to compel voluntarily. In these cases, you may need to go to a hearing. Courts will listen to their reasons and evidence for not complying and decide whether they can justify their resistance.

Defending Against A Motion To Compel

However, sometimes, you will be on the receiving end of a motion to compel. When this happens, you may find yourself being asked to provide information that conflicts with your clients’ rights or falls outside of the purview of the case.

Fortunately, you can also defend against these motions, helping to protect your client against unjustified intrusions. Here’s what to do:

Talk To The Opposing Party

As described above, one option is to “meet and confer” with the opposing party. Talking to them can sometimes help you resolve the issue without going through any formal court procedures. When meeting with the other side, record all relevant information, including talking points and any agreements reached.

Identify Objections

Next, look for specific objections in the motion to compel (which you should receive a copy of, along with the court). You may find the opposing side is making requests that fall outside the law.

We recommend using AI tools, like Briefpoint, for this process. Artificial intelligence-powered software can analyze documents rapidly and provide suggested objections and responses based on training on similar cases.

This software can usually find valid objections to frivolous or unfair motions to compel, protecting you and your family. Alternatively, you can enter your own or click responses from pre-designed templates.

Once you have a list of objections, you can submit it to the court for evaluation. It may agree that the opposing party’s motion to compel is vague or seeks information protected by privilege.

Carefully Read The Motion

Another pro tip is to read the motion carefully. Reviewing it with a fine tooth comb helps you better understand what the opposing party wants.

Sometimes, you can skim-read a motion to compel and come away believing it is asking for more probing information. Therefore, always read the small print to understand the nature of the discovery request.

AI tools shorten this process by reading the nitty-gritty details for you. Then, you can respond to the original submission using click-to-add objections.

File Your Response

Don’t forget to file your response with the court. Submit documentation that explains why the motion to compel is invalid.

If the court requires a hearing, ensure you attend. Being there allows you to make your case to oppose the motion.

Be Prepared To Compromise

Finally, you may need to compromise with the opposing party to avoid going to court in some cases. This tactic might involve disclosing some information while protecting other sensitive data.


Motion to compel is an essential legal tool for thwarting uncooperative parties. But people can also abuse them.

Your best defense is to understand how it works. Knowing how to respond appropriately in each case can help you defend against spurious objections and motions.

Fortunately, AI tools can help, as previously mentioned. Artificial intelligence is now advancing to the point where it can understand and interpret documents, helping you save time.

How Briefpoint Can Help

Discovery responses cost firms $23,240, per year, per attorney. $23,240 estimate assumes an associate attorney salary of $150,000 (including benefits – or $83 an hour), 20 cases per year/per associate, 4 discovery sets per case, 30 questions per set, 3.5 hours spent responding to each set, and 1800 hours of billable hours per year.

Under these assumptions, you save $20,477 using Briefpoint, per year, per attorney.

Test Briefpoint yourself by scheduling a demo here.

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