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Understanding Interrogatories

Before a case goes to trial, the parties are allowed to engage in a process known as discovery. During this phase of litigation, the parties gather and exchange information. One of the tools a party can use to obtain information is through the use of interrogatories.

Interrogatories are a series of written questions that are served upon another party in the case. In Arkansas, the receiving party must generally respond to these questions within thirty (30) days. Rule 33 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure establishes the manner in which a party should respond to a set of interrogatories. The rule also outlines the manner in which a party may object to a certain question. Typically, the Court will allow broad requests for information. Some of the most common objections are where the requests will not lead to any relevant information or where the requests seek information protected by attorney-client privilege.

If you are seeking information in your case, you can utilize interrogatories to obtain information without the expenses that are associated with other forms of discovery such as a deposition. One notable downside to interrogatories is that they allow the other party to have weeks to formulate a response rather than the seconds he or she may have to respond while testifying in a deposition or at a hearing.

If you have received interrogatories, the key thing to remember is that you need to respond or object in a timely manner. Failure to do so can lead to discovery sanctions and/or unnecessary additional litigation. If you are able to respond in a quick and complete manner you can save a substantial amount of time and resources that might otherwise be tied up in the discovery process.