A WITNESS STATEMENT SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT TO ARGUE THE CASE: YET ANOTHER JUDICIAL REMINDER

In  Ceviz v Frawley & Anor [2021] EWHC 8 (Ch)  HHJ Keyser QC made observations about a witness statement.  This case highlights the need for practitioners to be aware of the limitations of witness statement.   If this kind of statement is produced after April of this year, the solicitor will have provided a certificate of compliance. That solicitor could be open to considerable criticism.

 

“Witness statements are for the giving of evidence, not for arguing the case, making points against the opponent, or providing commentary on documents.”

THE CASE

The judge was giving judgment in a contractual dispute.  He gave his views on the witnesses, and was critical of the way in which the statement was drafted.

  1. A further observation does not reflect adversely on Mr Frawley but on whoever was responsible for drafting his witness statement. It was 22 pages long, comprised 111 paragraphs and contained a great deal of comment and commentary that has no proper place in a witness statement. Witness statements are for the giving of evidence, not for arguing the case, making points against the opponent, or providing commentary on documents.”

NEW RULES FROM APRIL 2021: IN-HOUSE WEBINAR AVAILABLE

A solicitor who allows such a statement to be served in the Business and Property Courts after April 2021 could be subject to serious criticism, and possibly sanctions.

From April 2021 the solicitor, preparing a witness statement in the Business and Property Court, must sign a Certificate of Compliance stating that (i) the purpose and proper content of trial witness statements have been discussed with the witness; (ii) that the statement complies with CPR PD 57AC and paragraphs 18 of PD 32 (iii) that the statement has been prepared in accordance with the Statement of Best Practice in the Appendix to CPR PD 57AC.

This means it essential that the solicitor has a detailed knowledge of all these rules and “the purpose and proper content of trial witness statements”.  This webinar is designed to give that knowledge.

Contents

Reviews the issues highlighted in the BPC report in detail, including the weaknesses in the skill set of litigators.

  • Considers all the new changes, including the consequences of the lawyer signing a declaration
  • Looks in detail at the rules and case law relating to the preparation and service of witness statements.
  • Contains checklists and highlights the practical steps that litigators can take to ensure witness statements are accurate and comply with the requirements.

For further details contact g.exall37@btinternet.com