WITNESS STATEMENTS: THE PREQUEL TO THE "ESSENTIAL CHECKLIST"

As part of the “Essential Checklist” series a group considered the issues relating to witness statements. Prior to the checklist it is worth reviewing some of the essential issues relating to the service and preparation of witness statements.

THE ISSUES THE GROUP THOUGHT IMPORTANT

It is probably not surprising that the group was much more concerned with the nuts and bolts of finding a witness; getting a statement; serving it on time and then making sure that the witness got to court.

SOME SURPRISING FACTS AND FIGURES

On a show of hands:

  • Virtually everyone in the room had drafted a witness statement.
  • Around 15% of those present had actually drafted witness statements in cases which had gone to trial and the witness gave evidence.
  • Only one person in the room had been to a course on drafting witness statements (one that I had give).
  • Very few had read the rules, practice direction or any of the guidance given in relation to the drafting of witness statements.

I doubt whether this is unrepresentative of the profession as a whole. This shows that, to a large extent, litigators are relying on instinct to draft witness statements. This may not matter if the statements are never tested.  However the first time you may find out that your witness statements are not what they should be is when the witness is giving evidence at trial.

OTHER POSTS THAT HELP

There are over a dozen posts on the blog which deal with witness statements (simply search “witness statements” – in the “search this site box on the right hand side).  Three, in particular relate to the forthcoming checklist.

Serving witness statements late: an extremely dangerous practice   remains one of the most regularly read posts on this blog.

Drafting witness statements: a checklist too important to ignore  deals the basic rules relating to the structure of witness statements.

Drafting witness statements and the genius of John Munkman   adopts a succinct summary of key points from John Munkman’s book on advocacy.