DEFINITION of deposit
A deposition is testimony given under oath and recorded in writing by an authorized judicial officer, usually outside the court and before trial. Deposition is an integral part of the discovery process, which allows the two parties involved in a legal matter to learn all the relevant facts and to discover the other party’s point of view on the case, in order to define a legal strategy effective. Depositions generally come from key witnesses, but can also involve the plaintiff or the defendant, and often take place in a lawyer’s office rather than in the courtroom.
The individual making the deposit is called the depositor. Since the depositor is under oath, false declarations can lead to civil and criminal sanctions.
In Canada, the filing process is called a “screening”.
As with any discovery procedure, the main purpose of a statement is to give all parties to the dispute a fair view of the evidence and to level the playing field with respect to the information, so that there is no have no unwanted surprises at trial. A deposition also preserves the testimony of the witness if it is collected within a relatively short period of time after the occurrence of the crime or accident, since a trial can take several months and the memory of the event by the witness can s fade over time.
A statement would be necessary, for example, if there were to be an accident resulting in a liability action. All parties involved in the case are authorized to attend the deposition. The depositor will be asked a number of questions related to the trial by lawyers on both sides. A court reporter who is present accurately records each question and answer in the testimony, and produces a transcript which can then be used at trial. Due to the exhaustive questioning characteristic of depositions, they can last several hours. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and its state equivalents, a deposit must take a maximum of seven hours per day for each depositor. In Canada, examinations for discovery are limited to 7 hours per party performing the examination.
Examples of filing questions
The questions asked during a testimony may be broader than those which can be admitted in legal proceedings. For example, a witness to an automobile accident may be asked a series of questions such as:
- Background – Has the witness already been convicted? Is it related to the parties involved in the case? Does he have physical limitations such as poor eyesight?
- Accident scene – Does the witness know the scene? Is he aware of traffic controls and has he posted speed limits on the premises?
- Observations on the accident – How far was the witness from the accident site? Did he have a clear vision of the event? What was the estimated speed of each vehicle?
Since depositions are an essential part of the litigation process and can have a significant impact on the outcome of a trial, legal professionals strive to adequately prepare their clients for depositions. Although depositors are required to be scrupulously honest in answering questions, the aim is to avoid common mistakes made by depositors. These errors can include saying too much, providing information that can be used to advantage by the opposing party. Another common mistake is to make assumptions or assumptions because depositors are required to stick to the facts, not speculate or theorize.