Interrogatories are a form of written questions posed by one party to the other party in an effort to obtain information without the fullness and formality of an examination for discovery.
The requirements for interrogatories are set out in Rule 9-3. They are only allowed by consent or with leave (permission) of the court. If you believe that interrogatories are necessary, you can ask for leave by filing an application under Part 10 of the rules. For more information on bringing an application see Family Law Guidebook - Chambers Applications.
If the court grants leave or the party consents, you can deliver interrogatories to any party in the action and they must be replied to within 21 days of delivery. Answers to interrogatories are delivered in the form of an affidavit, so the party answering the questions swears to the truth of the answers. If there are more than two parties in your case but you wish only to send interrogatories to one party, you are required to send a copy of the interrogatories to all other parties for their information.
The court, in granting leave, may set conditions on the interrogatories, such as the number and length, or what topics they are allowed to cover. Interrogatories may be useful in cases where, for example, you need specific, precise, factual information, such as:
- Bank accounts
- Contents of a house
- Customers of a particular company
- Other technical information
Deciding whether or not it is worth the effort to file an application to allow the use of interrogatories may be something to discuss with a lawyer.
When you receive the answers to your interrogatories, make sure they gave you the answers you require, or provided you with a reasonable explanation as to why they did not answer your questions. Rule 9-3(6) sets out some reasons why interrogatory questions do not need to be answered. These are called objections and must also be included in the affidavit that is required in response to the interrogatories within 21 days after delivery.
If interrogatories are delivered to you, you do not need to respond to them unless you agreed to respond or the court has granted the other party leave to issue interrogatories. If the court has granted leave, make sure that you respond to the interrogatories within 21 days (see Rule 9-3(4)). Because you have to answer interrogatories by affidavit, you need to see a lawyer or a notary to swear your affidavit.