Contract disputes are common in the business world. Even when a contract is well constructed, your client or business associate may accuse your company of breaching its terms. If you and your colleagues are unable to resolve the conflict, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit that threatens the solvency of your company.
Preparing to defend yourself in court requires diligence and attention to detail. There are several phases of any legal action, and the discovery phase of a lawsuit sets the stage for the successful or unsuccessful resolution of the claim. It may help you to prepare well if you understand what to expect during this phase of the process.
Discovery involves the exchange of relevant information between you and the other party. This typically happens well before the scheduled date of the trial to allow both sides to examine the information and determine the best way to proceed. In many cases, after seeing the material collected from the other side, one party may decide it is best to settle the case or move to mediation rather than going to trial. Some of the information exchanged during discovery can include the following:
- Depositions, in which attorneys for both sides question witnesses under oath to learn what information they can contribute to the case
- Expert witness depositions, in which those with special credentials related to the contract issue explain how they can support one side of the argument
- Interrogatories, which are questionnaires opposing counsel may send to anyone involved in the dispute
- Documents related to the contract and the alleged breach, including emails, memos, invoices and other correspondences
It is important to be careful not to destroy or tamper with evidence during or prior to discovery. That may mean directing your staff to cease shredding documents or purging emails until the conclusion of the case. It is also critical that you take the demands of discovery seriously and meet any deadlines for providing the information the other side requests. A Pennsylvania attorney can help you comply with these rules and give you more assurance of the protection of your best interests.