WITNESS STATEMENTS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES: CHANGES COMING INTO FORCE IN APRIL

The 113th update to Practice Direction Amendments  introduces important changes to to witness statements in foreign languages  (Coming into force from the 6th April 2020).

 

CHANGES TO PRACTICE DIRECTION 22 – STATEMENTS OF TRUTH

There are amendments and addition to Practice Direct 22.

 After paragraph 2.3 insert—
“2.4 The statement of truth must be in the witness’s own language.
2.5 A statement of truth must be dated with the date on which it was signed.”.
4) In paragraph 3.8(2), after “to the client” insert “(through an interpreter where
necessary)”.
5) For the heading above paragraph 3A.1 substitute—
“Inability of persons, other than by reason of language alone, to read or
sign documents to be verified by a statement of truth”
6) In paragraph 3A.1, after “the document,” insert “other than by reason of language
alone,”

SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES TO PD 22

  • Paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5 are new requirements.  The statement of truth must be in the witnesses’ own language and be dated.
  • 3.8(2)  (when amended reads) that a solicitor has explained the statement to the client the importance of the statement of truth and

“(2) that before signing he had explained to the client (through an interpreter where
necessary)   that in signing the statement of truth he would be confirming the client’s belief that the facts stated in the document were true”

  • The change to the heading at 3A1 makes it clear that the section on inability of a person to read or sign documents only applies to those who cannot read or sign documents for reasons other than language alone (that is usually those who are illiterate).

CHANGES TO PRACTICE DIRECTION 32

PD 32 is also altered.

 In paragraph 17.2—
a) at the end of sub-paragraph (4), omit “and”;
b) at the end of sub-paragraph (5), for the full stop substitute “; and”; and
c) after sub-paragraph (5) insert—
“(6) the date of any translation.”.
2) In paragraph 18.1—
a) in the first sentence, after “own words” insert “and must in any event be
drafted in their own language”;
b) at the end of sub-paragraph (3), omit “and”;
c) at the end of sub-paragraph (4), for the full stop substitute “; and”; and
d) after sub-paragraph (4) insert—
“(5) the process by which it has been prepared, for example, face-to-face,
over the telephone, and/or through an interpreter.”.
3) In paragraph 19.1—
a) at the end of sub-paragraph (6), omit “and”;
b) at the end of sub-paragraph (7), for the full stop substitute “; and”; and
c) after sub-paragraph (7) insert—
“(8) be drafted in the witness’s own language.”.
4) In paragraph 20.1, for “that he believes” substitute “in their own language that
they believe”.
5) In paragraph 20.2, in the wording of the statement of truth, at the end insert “I
understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against
anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document
verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”
6) In the words in parentheses after paragraph 20.3, after “the document” insert
“other than by reason of language alone”.
7) For paragraph 23.2 substitute—
“23.2 Where a witness statement is in a foreign language—
(a) the party wishing to rely on it must—
(i) have it translated; and
(ii) file the foreign language witness statement with the court; and
(b) the translator must sign the original statement and must certify that the
translation is accurate.”

SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES

  • An obligation to include the date of any translation.
  • Paragraph 18.1 reads

Body of witness statement

18.1 The witness statement must, if practicable, be in the intended witness’s own words and must in any event be
drafted in their own language  , the statement should be expressed in the first person and should also state:

  • 18.5 is a new obligation, it does not just apply to statements in a foreign language,  it imposes a duty to state the way in which the statement has been prepared “(5) the process by which it has been prepared, for example, face-to-face, over the telephone, and/or through an interpreter.”
  • The new 23.2 imposes a duty on the translator to sign the original statement and certify that the translation is accurate (previously the obligation was for the translator to file an affidavit verifying the translation).