What is a witness statement?
A witness statement is a formal document which contains your own account of the facts relating to the issues arising in a dispute. Comments made in your statement should be limited to fact and descriptions based on opinion should be kept to a minimum.
The purpose of the witness statement is to provide written evidence to support your case, that will, if necessary, be used in evidence at court. The statement is a very crucial part of the case, it is, therefore, important to ensure that the statement is accurate and comprehensive. Your instructions in your own words are central to your case success.
What is a witness statement for?
This is a signed document recording the evidence of a witness. A definition in the UK is 'A written statement signed by a person which contains the evidence which that person would be allowed to give orally'. Once you have agreed on the final draft of your statement, you will be asked to sign a statement to verify that it is an accurate record of your instructions. This will be used as the basis of the case, to prepare letters and other legal documents, we will also base any advice we give to you on your instructions given in the witness statement.
Who needs to give a witness statement?
We will ask the parties named on the ownership certificates to provide a witness statement. When this is more than one person we will ask for everyone to give their evidence. This is because some people may remember certain aspects of conversations more clearly than others.
I have already answered a questionnaire, do I need to do a witness statement as well?
While a questionnaire still contributes to your cases evidence, these are simply your preliminary instructions which we use to make an initial case assessment. The witness statement provides a signed and formal version of your full instructions which will be used for the basis of your case.
How do I book in my witness statement?
How will your statement be prepared?
Typically a telephone appointment will be made with you to discuss the issues on which you can give evidence - this is called taking a proof of evidence. It is likely to involve the lawyer asking you to review documents that relate to the dispute, either before or during the meeting itself and asking you questions about important events. For example, your account of a particular meeting or discussions regarding the transactions you have entered into.
The statement must be in your own words, therefore it is important that you understand what is included in your statement, and that it accurately reflects your account of the facts.
The witness statement will then be proofed. The complexity of this process will determine the length of time needed for this to be completed. After the statement has been taken, a draft will be produced for you to review and amend where necessary. It is very common that there will be several drafts of the witness statement, and when you are satisfied with it you will be asked to sign and date it. This will then become your 'Proof of Evidence'. Finally, you will also be asked to sign a 'statement of truth' contained in the witness statement. You can find out more about this below.
Who will get to see the witness statement
What is the statement of truth?
This is a statement at the end of your witness statement, which states that the witness believes the facts in the witness statement are true and accurate.
Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against any witness who makes or causes, a false statement which is verified by a statement of truth.