A request for admission is a discovery device by which a litigant sends an adversary a set of declaratory statements, which the answering party should either admit or deny. If s/he can neither admit nor deny (probably due to lack of knowledge), then the reasons for doing do should be given in detail. In that case, the answering party has to ensure that s/he has made reasonable inquiry and that the information available is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny.
The answering party can also object to the statements in the request by stating reasons for his/her objection[i]. That the request would present a genuine issue of fact for trial is, however, not a valid reason for objection.
Requests for admissions narrow the course of the case because having a set of facts admitted avoids controversy and argument and the court can rely on them in deciding the outcome of the case. All evidence can be rebutted at trial. But admitted facts can be relied upon as true by courts.
Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs requests for admissions and some of the significant points are discussed below:
- Rule 36(a)(1) restricts the type of information that can be required to be admitted to:
- facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either; and
- genuineness of any described documents.
- Rule 36(a)(2) specifies that the requesting party should separately state each matter to be admitted/denied. Also, if the request is regarding genuineness of a document, then the document in question should be attached unless it has already been furnished.
- According to Rule 36(a)(3), generally, a request for admission should be responded to within 30 days. If the party does not submit a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney within 30 days, the matter is considered to be admitted. Also, either the court may order a shorter or longer time frame to respond or the parties may so agree[ii] between each other.
- Rule 36(a)(4): If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically deny it or state in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny it. Also if a party can answer or deny only a part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest.
- Rule 36(a)(6): If the requesting party doubts genuineness or is dissatisfied with the sufficiency of an answer or objection, s/he can file a motion regarding that before the court. If the court does not find an objection justified, it will order the answering party to serve an answer. Thereafter, the court may either admit that matter or require an amended answer to be submitted. As long as the court does not, on a motion, permit the answering party to withdraw or amend the answer, the matter will be considered to be admitted conclusively.
Requests for admissions help make trial shorter and more efficient. However, an admission under this rule is not an admission for any other purpose and cannot be used against the party in any other proceeding.
[i] Rule 36(a)(5)
[ii] Rule 29 FRCP