Discovery Basics

Last Reviewed: March 2023 Reviewed by: JES Download

Discovery Basics

The discovery process is the way you (and the other party) learn more about the case. It includes an opportunity to look at documents the other side has that relate to the case. You also have an opportunity to ask the other side questions about what happened.

Discovery lets you learn the other side’s version of when and where things happened. You get a good sense of the strength of your case, and where agreement might be reached. Many cases settle during the discovery process. 

Note that the discovery process is not available in claims started by a petition. For more information on the difference between actions and petitions, see Action or Petition. Also, note that different discovery rules apply if you are in a proceeding where the “fast track” rule applies (see Fast Track Litigation).

Types of Discovery

There are several possible steps in the discovery process, although it may not be necessary for you to take all of these steps in your case. 

  • Discovery of documents: You must disclose to the other parties in the proceeding all of the documents that could be used by any party at trial to prove or disprove a material fact. This means that you must describe the documents that you have to the other party, and make them available for the other party to examine
  • Examination for discovery: This is a meeting where one party asks an opposing party a series of questions
  • Interrogatories: This is a series of written questions provided to the other party to be answered in writing. They may only be used with leave (permission) of the court
  • Pre-trial examination of witnesses: This process may be used if there is a person who has material evidence relating to the case and who is not a party to the action. It may only be used with leave (permission) of the court

You may want to consult a lawyer before beginning the discovery process. A lawyer can give you important information and advice about how to find out what you need to know about the other party’s case, as well as how much information you must disclose to the other parties in your proceeding. For information on finding a lawyer, see Get Help.

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