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Interrogatories: An Explainer

Interrogatories: An Explainer

Preparing for a court case? Want the court to know the relevant facts? Learn all you need to know about interrogatories here.

1st April 2019

Ensuring a fair trial is one of the paramount functions of the Court and the judicial system. The Court’s need to have the requisite facts to have a fair trial is the primary purpose of interrogatories. Moreover, they can help clarify your understanding of the other party’s position. Also they assist your preparation for the upcoming court case. Keep reading to find the essential information you should know about interrogatories.

What are Interrogatories?

Interrogatories are specific questions that one party requires the other party to answer. This forms part of the pre-trial procedure and occurs in the context of civil court proceedings. The answers to these questions have to be in writing. Furthermore, the court can use your answers as evidence. These questions will often concern the ‘essential’ facts to the dispute between the parties. Interrogatories are interlocutory applications, with another type being a request to set aside a default judgment, with applications that are required to be before trial.

How do I serve interrogatories?

You have to have the Court’s permission in order for you to require the other party to answer your interrogatories. Furthermore, as the purpose of interrogatories is to ensure a fair trial, there are only specific questions that you ask. Importantly, the questions asked must be ‘necessary’ for you to be able to have a response. If this process, is making you considering whether you wish to go to court, you can always try a form of alternate dispute resolution such as arbitration.

How do I respond to interrogatories?

Firstly, there is a maximum time period for you to respond to interrogatories. Supreme Courts allow you 42 days to respond to interrogatories but it will depend on which court your case is in. If you think that the questions are not ‘necessary’ you can object to the questions that the other party asks you. Questions that are irrelevant, confidential or oppressive are such questions that you will not have to answer.

When the Court deems the questions ‘necessary’, you will be required to answer them. Keep in mind, you do not have to provide answers if that will result you in self-incriminating. Moreover, you do not have to answer the questions to the benefit of the other party. Interrogatories are for the benefit of the Court to enable a fair trial, so your answers are for the Court’s purposes and not to assist the other party’s case. However, as you are not allowed to mislead the Court, your answers are required to be honest and straightforward. If you are unsure of how to respond to interrogatories, it is best to get legal advice to best protect your or your business’s position.

Conclusion

Thus, now you know about interrogatories and the role that they play in court proceedings. Keep in mind, that only a limited amount of questions can be asked and they might not get answered before trial.

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Author
Lachlan Ward

Lachlan is an intern at Lawpath as part of the content team. He is currently studying a Juris Doctor at the University of Sydney. Lachlan has a keen interest in corporate law and commercial litigation.