New rules expected to have a significant impact on the preparation and content of trial witness statements of fact in the Business and Property Courts are in force as of today (6 April 2021).
The rules are contained in Practice Direction 57AC, which appends a Statement of Best Practice, and apply to statements signed on or after 6 April.
To help in-house counsel navigate the new rules, we previously gave our take on some of the key points to watch out for, including:
- The “proper” content of trial witness statements;
- The new requirement to provide a list of documents the witness has referred to / been referred to in preparing their statement;
- The “proper” practice for preparing trial witness statements – some do’s and don’ts;
- The requirement for the statement of truth to include new wording, effectively confirming compliance with the new rules;
- The new certificate of compliance signed by the relevant legal representative that must endorse the witness statement; and
- Sanctions for non-compliance, which include (among others) an order that the statement be redrafted and/or that a witness give some or all of their evidence in chief orally.
For information on these key points and more, visit our previous article on the topic, “New rules on witness statements in force from 6 April 2021”.
The duty of factual witnesses is to give the court an honest account of matters known personally to them (including, if relevant to the issues in the case, what they recall as to matters witnessed personally by them or what they would or would not have done or thought if the facts, or their understanding of them, had been different). It is improper to put pressure of any kind on a witness to give anything other than their own account, to the best of their ability and recollection, of the matters about which the witness is asked to give evidence.