Witness Statements – What You Need To Know

A civil litigation case can be won or lost depending on the strength of witness evidence at trial. Likewise, applications to the Court may collapse if the witness statement does not readily deal with all of the issues. It is therefore important that you have an understanding on the use and preparation of witness statements, should litigation ever need to be sought in the future.

A witness statement is a formal document used in Court to support a party’s case, and can be used as evidence if necessary.  The document is signed by the witness alongside a Statement of Truth stating that the witness believes the facts to be true and accurate. It is crucial to ensure that, at each stage of the drafting process, the statement is precise and comprehensive as it will be used to depict the party’s case in the strongest light. Contempt of court may be brought against a witness who deliberately changes the facts or falsifies evidence.

Due to the importance of the witness statement in Court, it is most often prepared in conjunction with a solicitor. The solicitor will meet with the witness to give a careful and detailed account of their version of the events giving rise to the dispute. They will also ask the witness to review certain documentation relevant to the events of the dispute to clarify their suitability. This particular step cannot be underestimated as the content of the witness statement may indeed be challenged by cross examination at trial and it is vital to ensure the witness is fully aware of the facts surrounding the case. Subject to all the relevant checks having been carried out, the solicitor will draft a statement for the witness, who will then review and amend as necessary. During this drafting process, it is common for several versions to be produced and amended before a final statement is submitted.

A well drafted witness statement can carry significant weight in the courtroom and it is therefore vital that professional legal assistance is sought beforehand. At Seatons, our team of highly trained legal professionals have a wealth of experience on the drafting of witness statements and provide clear, easy to understand legal advice at low sensible fees. For more information, feel free to give us a call on 01536 276300.