After the initial pleadings are filed in a lawsuit – a “complaint” and an “answer,” in most cases – the case will proceed to what some consider to be the most important part of legal disputes: the “discovery” phase. During this phase of the case, facts and theories are developed as both sides work to put together the pieces of what each side hopes will be a successful argument. During the discovery phase, parties to the case, as well as other potential witnesses, may be asked to participate in “depositions.”
When people in the legal community refer to “depositions,” they are typically referring to oral depositions. In this process, individuals are asked questions, under oath, much like they would be if they were called as a witness at trial. The difference, however, is that depositions typically do not take place in a courtroom and, sometimes, the testimony given in a deposition isn’t always called up for use at trial. A deposition is more like a trial run, of sorts, of what testimony a person might give at trial.
So, will depositions be part of your business litigation? In many cases, the answer is “yes.” While the pleadings in any given case do provide some details and alleged facts, the real eye-to-eye assessment between the parties and their attorneys that occurs during depositions can be a crucial part of fact-finding in any business litigation.
Developing a case
Depositions are just one part of developing a case for potential trial or alternative dispute resolution sessions. But, depositions are as important as anything else in the case. Being prepared and understanding the process of depositions is crucial for anyone involved in business litigation in California.