2020-03-17
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A guide to preparing witness statements for clients

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Posted by Gemma Carson on 05 November 2019

Gemma Carson Partner - Head of Dispute Resolution

Format of witness statement

There are strict requirements for the format of witness statements. These include:

  • The statement must be produced on durable quality A4 paper with a margin of 3.5 cm
  • The statement should normally be typed on one side of the paper only.
  • Pages should be numbered consecutively.
  • The statement must be divided into numbered paragraphs.
  • References to document pagination should be given in the margin or the body of the text in bold.
  • Numbers and dates should be in figures.

Key ingredients

Your witness statement stands as the evidence upon which you wish to rely at Trial.  Apart from answering questions in cross-examination, witnesses will not usually be given an opportunity to give oral evidence at Trial.

  1. The witness statement should be in the witness' own words.
  2. If the witness is making the statement other than in his professional capacity, he must state his home address.  If the witness is making the statement in his professional capacity, he must state: his work address; the position he holds; and the name of his employer or business.
  3. The witness statement should state the witness' occupation.
  4. If the witness is a party to the proceedings or is employed by a party to the proceedings, the witness statement should state this.
  5. The witness statement should specify which statements are made from the witness' own knowledge and which are matters of information and belief.
  6. It should also state the source of any matters of information or belief.
  7. The statement should cover all of the facts which must be proved at trial that are within the first hand knowledge of that witness. Each paragraph should contain one or more statements of fact, usually set out in the chronological order of the matters or events dealt with.
  8. The statement should not contain opinion evidence.

 

Signing the witness statement

Statement of truth

A witness statement must also include a statement by the witness that they believe the facts in it are true. 

If a witness makes a false statement without an honest belief in its truth, he may be found to be in contempt of court and held liable to pay a fine or be imprisoned.

The witness statement should be signed on the final page under the Statement of Truth and each page of the witness statement should be initialled in the bottom right hand corner.

Exhibits

It may be necessary to exhibit documents to the witness statement.

Where a witness refers to an exhibit, they should state in the body of the statement: "I refer to the [describe exhibit e.g email dated 1 September timed at 11:09] which is now shown to me marked A".

If the exhibit contains a lot of pages it is sensible to number the pages of the exhibit and make reference to the relevant page e.g: page 14 of Exhibit A.

 

About the author

Gemma Carson

Partner - Head of Dispute Resolution

Gemma specialises in commercial litigation and has a wealth of experience in dealing with all types of commercial contract dispute.

Gemma Carson

Gemma specialises in commercial litigation and has a wealth of experience in dealing with all types of commercial contract dispute.

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