Interrogatories are written questions that may be sent to any person or legal entity who is a party to the lawsuit (plaintiff or defendant). They may not be sent to persons who are not parties to the litigation. Most jurisdictions limit the number of questions that can be asked and the number of sets of interrogatories that can be sent. The questions are directed to the party personally, but they are sent to the party’s attorney and the attorneys representing all the other parties to the litigation. The attorney gives the questions to the client and either asks the client to prepare a set of draft answers or has a paralegal work with the client to prepare the draft.
Once the draft answers are prepared, the attorney edits this draft to prepare answers that are technically correct and provide the requested factual information, but provide as little speculation from the client as possible. If the question is even slightly ambiguous, the attorney will refuse to provide an answer until the ambiguities have been resolved. This process of disputing the interrogatories can take several months and one or more hearings before the judge. Interrogatories can be a cost-effective way of collecting information, but in practice they are often abused.