What Is An Interrogatory?

An interrogatory is a written document, one that contains a question or a request for information. Each interrogatory gets written by one party in a given lawsuit, and it gets submitted to the opposing party. In federal court, each party gets limited to 25 interrogatories; in a state of provincial court, the state or provincial law determines the number allowed.

The party receiving an interrogatory must respond within 30 days.

The response must take the form of a written reply. That same reply must be signed in the presence of a notary. The notary’s seal serves as proof of the veracity of what the signee has said in writing.

Rules on the wording in an interrogatory:

A request must be written in a manner that allows it to encourage the creation of an open-ended response. In other words, the respondent should not feel content to offer a “yes” or “no” answer.

For instance, if a defendant were to write such a request, it would need to mirror the pattern in this statement: State whether or not the victim with the alleged injury was seen by a doctor; if so, when?

It is confusing, and the receiver does not understand what information has been sought. It asks for disclosure of inadmissible evidence. For instance, a psychologist might be asked to share private information about a patient. It contains an overbroad statement. It requests information on too wide an area, and, thus, puts an unrealistic demand on the receiver’s time. It asks for information to which the receiver has not been given access. Consequently, it would take too many hours for the recipient of the request/interrogatory to compile a suitable response.

What happens after an interrogatory’s rejection, due to an objection?

If the discovery lasts for more than one day, it may be possible to re-write it and re-submit it. Still, understand that there is a limit on the number of interrogatories any one party can send to the opposing party. That fact highlights the need for putting a good deal of thought into the formulation of an interrogatory’s wording.

If the request had been seen as an objectionable inquiry, there may be no way to use that fact later during the trial. Recall that no interrogatories get filed with the court. Consequently, it could prove difficult to present evidence of the other side’s quest for inadmissible material. The party that received such a request could be alerted to the other side’s desire for inadmissible evidence. Once alerted to that fact, the side that possessed any information about that same evidence could take steps to hold it in confidence.

A personal injury lawyer in Vancouver representing the side with the valuable information could undertake actions to guard against the posing of a question that might force a witness to reveal the inadmissible evidence. For instance, an injury lawyer might watch for arrival of a time for objecting to such a question. It could alert an injury lawyer to the need to do more research, so that a client could give better answers, when asked to serve as a witness.