The deposition outline breach of contract process involves gathering pretrial information that is used to discover/determine what a witness may know so that the testimony is preserved for future use when a case goes to court.

Purpose of a Deposition

There are two primary reasons for taking a deposition. In a breach of contract case, for example, a lawyer will use the deposition to learn the facts relevant to the case by asking a series of questions. The questions are designed to determine if the contract was breached. The lawyer will then depose the parties involved and any witnesses to the transaction to discover what the participants in the contract did or did not do. The deposition process is an important procedure for obtaining evidence.

A court reporter is assigned to record, verbatim, everything said during a deposition. The deposed person is under oath and must answer all questions asked by the deposing attorney, which includes the attorney for the plaintiff and the defendant. The deposed person is bound to tell the truth during a deposition the same as they are required to tell the truth in a court of law.

A deposition also gives the examining lawyer the opportunity to obtain admissions to support the case. To obtain the information, a lawyer may use cross-examination as a means of questioning a witness. Cases can be won or lost at the deposition stage, which is why preparing ahead of time is a vital step.

There are several advantages to depositions, such as:

  • A deposition allows access to facts and witnesses that you do not have when using other discovery methods.
  • With a deposition, you have the opportunity to ask questions as well as asking follow-up questions.
  • During a deposition, the party being deposed can be either a party or non-party individual.
  • Opposing counsel cannot control the responses of witnesses.

One of the best ways to ensure an effective deposition is to become familiar with the Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 27-32, and Rule 45.

Common Questions Asked During a Deposition

Deposition questions vary according to the case. Generally, the initial questions are basic introductory types composed to put the witness at ease and provide background information followed by prepared deposition questions. Some of the types of introductory questions asked of the deposed individual will cover such as:

  • Verifying the person understands that they are under oath and has sworn to tell the truth.
  • If they've ever been deposed in the past.
  • That they understand their responses have the same force as questions answered before a judge and jury in a courtroom.
  • If the person is prepared to answer questions.
  • If there is any reason the person may not be prepared to give the lawyer their full attention.
  • Whether the deposed person is on any type of medication.
  • That the person will ask for clarification if they do not understand the lawyer's question.
  • To let the lawyer know if a break by the deposed party is needed.

These types of questions are meant to protect the deposed party and the attorney asking the questions. The next stage of the deposition is asking background questions. These questions concern personal and historical background information. These are broken into five categories:

  • Identification.
  • Residential history.
  • Martial history.
  • Educational history.
  • Legal history.

In the final stage of the deposition, the deposing attorney asks questions specific to the case.

Preparation for a Deposition

There are a series of steps to take when preparing for a deposition to ensure that all facts are recorded.

  1. Determine who needs to be deposed. This includes all parties involved.
  2. Decide when the depositions are to be taken. See Rule 27 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
  3. Arrange for a location to take the depositions with a court reporter on hand to record and/or video the proceedings.
  4. Lawyers should allow ample time to review all documents pertaining to or that have any bearing on how a witness may respond to questions.
  5. When all documents have been reviewed and information compiled, the outlining phase begins. The process for this phase will vary based on the type of case.

When the actual deposition begins and once the introductory and background questions have been asked and answered, you will ask specific questions in logical order. For example, in a breach of contract case involving a corporation, you would want answers concerns the following:

  • Information about the formation of the contract.
  • Negotiations related to the contract.
  • The execution of the document.
  • Conduct of the parties following the execution.
  • The breach being claimed.
  • Conduct following the breach of contract.
  • Damages.

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