Solicitors Near Me For Witness Statements – What Is a Witness Statement?
If you are involved in a legal case where evidence is being compiled, you may want to know, what is a witness statement and how will it be used?
A witness statement is a document prepared for a court case setting out someone’s recollection of an event or their knowledge of relevant facts. In civil cases, witness statements are crucial in providing evidence for both sides. If you are involved in a legal dispute or you have information relating to one, you may be asked to provide a witness statement.
Because of the legal importance of witness statements, you should seek legal advice before drafting and signing one. We can recommend a solicitor with expertise in the relevant area of law who will be able to advise you and where necessary work with you to draw up a witness statement.
What Is A Witness Statement?
A witness statement will support a legal case or provide further information to the court to assist the judge in deciding how to rule. The statement will be accompanied by a statement of truth confirming that the information provided is accurate and true.
Because of the importance of witness statements in a court of law, it is essential that they are carefully drafted and specify only what you know to be true. A statement can be challenged in court and you could be questioned about its contents at length.
When Is A Witness Statement Needed?
Witness statements are used in a wide range of court cases, including family law, contract disputes, personal injury claims and all types of civil law actions. They support the case brought by one side and provide information that can be crucial to the case.
The statement can be made by either side or by someone else in support of the claim or defence. Witnesses can be compelled to attend court to give evidence, but if you need someone to provide help and information, it is generally better to have witnesses who are prepared to take part voluntarily.
Who Can Be A Witness?
Anyone aged 18 or over who has the mental capacity to understand the process and who has knowledge relating to the case can make a witness statement.
Certain witness statements can be used without the need for the witness to attend court. It is often the case that a claim is settled by negotiation, in which case there will not be a court hearing. So even if you make a witness statement, you may not need to go to court to be questioned about it.
The Importance of Legal Advice When Making A Witness Statement
A solicitor will be able to advise you on what should be included in your witness statement. It is important to set out relevant information that will support your case in the best way possible. Effective evidence is vital if you are to win your case, and your solicitor will be able to advise you of the points that you need to include.
Making A Witness Statement
The statement should be in your own words and include facts that you know to be true. It is not the place to put legal argument or your opinion but should include evidence and information about your case.
The statement should make clear what points were in your knowledge and which were information or belief, together with the source of any information or belief that has been included.
Facts should be included to support what you say. For example, showing why someone was negligent by setting out what negligent actions they have carried out.
More than one witness statement giving the same evidence can be used in a case to reinforce a point. Where several witnesses make a similar point, it will carry more weight.
Documents can be included where necessary, although the courts prefer that witness statements are concise and documents not excessive. You will be given guidance as to the maximum length your statement can be, depending on the type of case you are involved in.
What Must Be Included In A Witness Statement?
If you are making a witness statement to be used in a court case, you should keep to the following rules:
- The statement should be written in the first person and be in your own words. This means that legal jargon should be avoided
- You should only include facts you know and not things that you have heard other people say to be true
- Events should usually be in chronological order
- If you are connected to the parties involved in the case or you are a party to the case, this should be stated
- You should say whether something is a matter of knowledge or belief. If it is your belief, you should say why this is so
The statement should not include your opinion, use persuasive language or seek to argue the case.
You will also be required to make a statement of truth. The wording of this is as follows:
‘I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true. 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.’
Being Questioned About A Witness Statement In Court
If the case that you are involved in goes to court, you may be required to attend the trial and be questioned by barristers about the statement you have made. You should make sure that you are familiar with your statement before you go to court, as you will be asked to confirm that it is your statement and that you do not wish to change anything.
The information you have given could be challenged. The solicitor involved will be able to prepare you for the trial.
Do You Need Help Finding Witness Statement Solicitors Near Me?
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