The New Witness Statement Regime 2021

Recorded on: 25/02/2021

On 6 April, a series of fundamental changes to witness statements are being introduced in all Business and Property Court cases, dealing with both the content of statements and the process of taking them. The reforms aim to tackle the problems identified by the Commercial Court witness statements working group, which described them as “over-lawyered” and too long and argumentative.

They will see significant new duties imposed upon both witnesses and legal representatives: the witness must sign off an elaborate statement of truth, while the  legal representative must certify that they have discharged obligations to discuss and explain the new rules with every single witness relied upon. They must also declare that the relevant statement has been prepared in conformity with the new provisions.

It is patently a serious step to sign off in such terms and lawyers will be propelled to the front line of responsibility.

Professor Dominic Regan, who educated thousands of practitioners when the compulsory exchange rules were introduced, will explain and analyse new Practice Direction 57AC.

Issues include:

  • What properly should a statement contain?
  • When is it legitimate to refer to documents?
  • Controlling oral evidence in chief
  • What is the position where a statement was executed before 6 April?
  • How is a legal representative to interview a witness?
  • What if a statement is not taken from an interview but instead based on, for example, a questionnaire?
  • What sanctions apply for breach?
  • How do the rules affect litigants in person?

Watch a two minute preview of the webinar


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