Inspection of Documents Law and Legal Definition
Inspection of documents is a legal right to examine and copy the opposing party's papers in a lawsuit which are relevant to the case. A legal demand may be made, but the request must be specific enough in identifying the documents sought that the other party can know what he/she must produce. The demand must not be overbroad so as to be unreasonably burdensome or harrassing. If the opposition either refuses to produce some documents or appears to hold back, the party wanting to see the documents can bring a "motion to to compel production of documents", which asks the court to order the other party to produce the documents and be sanctioned by imposing a fine for failure to honor the demand.
Documents may also be legally requested by means of subpoena duces tecum All of these procedures are part of the discovery process, intended to give both sides extensive pre-trial information. The discovery process is based upon the free exchange of information in order to arrive at the truth. Such exchanges of documents can lead to settlement, minimize surprises at trial and keep one side from hiding material, thus preventing the other from being able to introduce relevant material at trial.