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So you’re bracing for a “deposition” – what exactly is that?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Business Law

When businesses in New York get involved in business litigation, the decision-makers usually know that they may be in for a long slog to reach an end result in the case. And, between the start and the end of the case, there will likely be many steps to complete along the way, including participating in the “discovery” phase of a case. In that phase, business leaders may need to sit for a “deposition.” So, what is the “discovery” phase of a case and what is a “deposition”?

Sitting for a deposition

The “discovery” phase of a lawsuit can be a tedious time, as both sides have the opportunity to ask questions from the other side and try to develop the facts that will ultimately be used to decide the outcome of the case.

Although there are other forms of “paper” discovery, in which the sides will exchange lists of questions for the other side, or requests for documents or admission to certain facts, the “deposition” can be time-consuming for both sides and nerve-racking for the party to be deposed.

When a party to a case or a potential witness in a case sits for a deposition, that person is, essentially, testifying. The difference is that the deposition occurs out of court – typically in one of the attorneys’ offices. A court reporter will be present to record the testimony and prepare a transcript of the questions and answers.

Unlike courtroom testimony though, deposition questions and answers can sometimes be much more far-reaching – less concise. This is because there may be a bit of searching for more information that, if it comes to courtroom testimony, will be whittled down to the relevant facts or inconsistencies.

Inconsistencies between deposition testimony and courtroom testimony can be powerful evidence. Like testifying in court, those who are being deposed may be nervous. But, like testifying in court, preparation is key.