Pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216, a party may serve on any other party a written request for admission. In general, the purpose of these requests to admit are to enhance the discovery process and to limit or detail the issues that will be left for the trier of fact in a case which involves either a question of documents or question of facts.
An issue surrounding requests to admit is whether it is a discovery tool that would be subject to a discovery cutoff order or a non-discovery tool that can be used up until immediately before trial. I will explore this issue below.
Is request to admit a discovery tool or non-discovery tool?
The Illinois Supreme Court has unequivocally held that requests to admit are part of the discovery process. See Vision Point of Sale Inc. v. Haas, 226 III. 2d 334, 347 (2007).
Is request to admit subject to discovery cutoff orders?
This question is up for debate. Rule 216 requests are not discovery in the normal sense, and are not requested for the purpose of admissions to discover facts, but rather to establish the material facts in the case without the necessity of formal proof at trial. Because that is the stated purpose, a strong argument can be made that requests to admit are not subject to discovery cutoff dates.
As a practical matter, requests to admit cannot usually be prepared until after discovery has been completed. This would necessitate that requests to admit facts be submitted after the discovery close off date.
In addition, because of the high efficiency of requests to admit (i.e. getting those issues and documents that are unquestioned into focus), it will go a long way to streamlining the case and obviate the necessity of witnesses that would only be needed to provide foundation for documents and facts that could readily be admitted by one side or another.
A strong argument can be made that although requests to admit are discovery tools, they should not be subject to a discovery cutoff order because of the high rate of efficiency that can be generated at that time of trial for their use, especially after the completion of discovery.