A new law that goes into effect on the New Year (January 1, 2016) will require counsel to meet and confer before filing a demurrer to any pleading (i.e. complaint, cross-complaint, or answer). Specifically, at least 5 days before a responsive pleading is due, counsel will be required to meet and confer with opposing counsel to determine whether the parties can agree to the filing of an amended pleading that would resolve the objections. The amended pleading would then, hopefully, resolve the need for a demurrer. And it would permit the filing of a substantive responsive pleading.
In addition to the meet and confer requirement, the change in law limits demurrers to 3 times per pleading and prohibits one from demurring on an amended pleading on a ground that could have been raised in the prior version of the pleading. Furthermore, the change limits the window to when a pleading that is subject to demurrer can be amended, mooting the need for a hearing on the demurrer. Previously, the pleading could be amended at anytime prior to the hearing date. Now, the law authorizes a party to amend a pleading after a demurrer is filed but before it is heard by the court only if the amended pleading is filed and served before the date for filing an opposition to the demurrer. Anytime thereafter, the party could only amend the pleading upon stipulation by the parties.
The bill also includes a sunset provision of 5 years, in which all of the changes would be repealed.
Senate Bill 383, which was signed into law by Gov. Brown on October 1, 2015, adds section 430.41 to the California Code of Civil Procedure. The statute sets out the requirements for meeting and conferring over the objections to the pleading. It also describes a mechanism in which an automatic 30-day extension of time to file a responsive pleading is granted in the event the party or counsel considering a demurrer has made a good faith effort to meet and confer over the objections, but has not been successful in reaching the other side. This is accomplished by filing and serving a declaration under penalty of perjury demonstrating the good faith effort to meet and confer. The declaration must be filed on or before the date in which the responsive pleading would have originally been due.
The new law also amends section 472 and 472a of the California Code of Civil Procedure.