A HAPPY READER WRITES: WHEN BLOG POSTS ARE READ A ZILLION TIMES…

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As a blogger feedback comes in many forms.  Yesterday I had an email from a litigant in person.  The method described may well become more prevalent.

THE EMAIL

“Mr Exall,
I wrote to you this time last year with a quick thank you.
Just recently I received my final judgment and wanted to again offer my thanks and this time to specifically make a couple of points.
1. Without having read your blog posts, backwards, forwards, upside down and back to front a zillion times, I would definitely not have fared as well I did.
2. I achieved mostly everything I asked for at my final hearing and this was very much due to following your guides as to ‘evidence’ and ‘witness statement’ preparation. To use an analogy, my witness statements and evidence were the best ‘homework assignment’ I ever turned in.
3. As an LIP I represented myself in many many hearings and applications. However, I understand my own limitations and thus instructed a Direct Access Barrister to assist me with the final hearing. It was the best thing I could ever have done. My Barrister presented my claim beautifully and with poise. I would absolutely not have been able to present my case in any way as well as he did. At the end of the final hearing the judge even made a point of thanking my Barrister for assisting the Court in presenting the case so efficiently.
Even now, I cannot stop reading your posts, I’m too invested in knowing more than I ever should know or would want to know about the law. That said though, I truly thank you for the education that you have afforded me.
Many thanks.
p.s.
Please feel free to post my email, having removed my name.”

LITIGANTS IN PERSON AND WITNESS STATEMENTS

As this email shows sometimes litigants in person have a major advantage when it comes to preparing evidence.  Very few lawyers have any formal training at all on interviewing witnesses and drafting witness statements. Often they are reliant on half-remembered texts from law school. One part of a judgment I often mention when lecturing on witness statements.

HH OLIVER-JONES QC

Smith –v- J&M Morris (Electrical Contractors) Limited.  [2009] EWHC 0025 (QB).

I have often had occasion to remark about the failure to comply with the CPR so far as witness statements are concerned, as well as the obvious lack of skills of witnesses, and those acting for litigants, in formulating them. It is not infrequently the case that witness statements prepared by litigants-in-person are superior in form and substance to those prepared by solicitors or their agents based upon questionnaires, interviews (often by telephone) or correspondence with witnesses. It is often the case that witness statements, drafted by solicitors or their agents in good faith ( I exclude, of course, any case of deliberate intent to deceive by a witness or drafter), are signed or otherwise accepted by witnesses without any or any proper consideration of their accuracy, completeness or even truth”

 

GUIDEBOOK FOR LITIGANTS IN PERSON

There is a chapter on drafting witness statements that I recommend all practitioners read.


“Too often (indeed far too often) witnesses who have had statements prepared for them by solicitors tell the Judge that matters in the statement are not correct; they say (all too believably) that they simply signed what the solicitor had drafted for them without reading it through carefully and critically. This reflects badly not only on the witness, but on the whole case presented by the party calling the witness”