Interrogatories Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Interrogatories, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Interrogatories?

It is refered to as a part of process of discovering facts before the trial beins. Usually a set of question in writing is presented to the witness by the law enforcers or by one party of lawsuit to the other party. Those question are answered by either the lawsuit party or witness under the oath in writing. Such answers are also considered evidence. Not all the parties are liable to answer the questions. But the ones directly connected to legal action are expected to reply in a specified period of time.

History and Meaning of Interrogatories

Interrogatories are part of the pretrial discovery process where one party submits a list of written questions to the other party, who must answer them in writing and under oath. This method of obtaining information from witnesses has been used in common law countries for centuries. While formal interrogatories did not come into practice until the 1900s, they were used in one form or another as early as the 16th century in England.

In the United States, interrogatories are frequently used in civil litigation to gather evidence, as they are a cost-effective way to obtain information without requiring testimony in court. They are also often used in criminal investigations to obtain information from witnesses or suspects.

Examples of Interrogatories

  1. In a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant might receive interrogatories asking them to detail their involvement in the incident and any defenses they plan to use.
  2. In a divorce case, one spouse may serve the other with interrogatories to obtain information about the other party's financial assets and liabilities.
  3. In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff might submit interrogatories to the defendant doctor or hospital to determine what steps were taken to prevent the negligence that caused the plaintiff's injury.
  4. In a breach of contract case, an interrogatory may ask a party to provide information about the circumstances surrounding the breach of contract and any damages incurred.

Legal Terms Similar to Interrogatories

Requests for admission: A formal legal request asking the recipient to admit or deny specific statements of fact or law.

Depositions: A witness's sworn pretrial testimony, given under oath and recorded for use at trial.

Subpoenas: A legal order compelling a person or organization to produce documents, give testimony, or attend court.