Witness Statements in Court Proceedings
24/07/2012 10:13 am
I'm currently dealing with a long standing case. The housing officer who made the original witness statement has now left the organisation. I want to provide the court with a new statement in the case but my legal team suggest the original officer must/will have to attend court, possible through a subpoena. Howevert his could result in a large expenses claim on behalf of the witness, which I'm reluctant to pay. And we will be reliant on a witness who no longer has any regard for the organisation.
Can anyone offer any suggestions as to how I can overcome this.
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24/07/2012 1:11 pm
If the matter of fact in question relates to tenancy management in general then the current housing officer is equivalent in standing to the previous housing officer, and their statement of current fact can update the previous statement.
However, should the other side have a matter of contest in the original statement then the availability of the original officer may be preferable, although not absolutely a requirement of the Court.
If the matter is directly related to the observance or action of the previous officer, then they will absolutely need to be available to the Court, and the costs of doing so form part of your legal costs.
Without specifics it is hard to comment with conviction - however, presuming that your own legal advice has access to all facts and they determine that it is needed for you to obtain the original housing officer, then it is fair to take it that this is correct. [if it is not, then what are you paying your legal advice for - and in all honesty, are you really going to depend on advice via a forum to go against the advice that you have paid for, and if it proves wrong you have a financial call back to use]
24/07/2012 3:49 pm
gavin. if the original housing officers statement was sound to the degree that it has been used as a precursor to court action. would you not be undermining your case to now wish to change it by issuing a new statement. if the case is serious and ongoing the current housing officers submission should suppliment the historical evidence. i would be very wary of looking to change a case at this stage
13/08/2012 6:04 pm
The officer who gave the witness statement does not have to attend court if it is not reasonably practicable for the witness to attend court. Any officer can give evidence of what the officer would have said. The evidence is however hearsay evidence and although such evidence is admissible in court, the real issue is weight which the court will attach to the evidence and that depends on a variety of factors such as the extent to which there is other corroborative evidence and the contemporaneous nature of the evidence of the officer.
Clearly first hand evidence is preferable to hearsay evidence but if there are difficulties in getting the former officer to attend court then you solicitor would be able to serve the usual hearsay notices in respect of the evidence so that another witness can deal with the evidence.
15/08/2012 4:00 pm
Your legal team will have considered which witness will be of greatest evidential value. This should be the primary consideration if you are to present your best possible case.The best evidence is likely to be provided by the person who saw/witnessed/experienced the issues first hand, which presumably is the Housing Officer who provided the first witness statement. If he/she does not attend court, and you do not have first hand knowledge of the issues, your opponent will not have the opportunity to cross examine the Housing Officer under oath and the judge will be entitled to attach less weight to the evidence. This could compromise your case. Litigation is not cheap and I suspect the loss of earnings and travel expenses of the witness will be a drop in the ocean compared with your own legal costs, and the costs of your opponent which you could have to pay if unsuccessful. The advice of your legal team to subpoena this witness appears to be appropriate and in the best interest of your case.
Nearer to the trial date your legal rep should be able to give your witness an indication of exactly which day/s he/she will be required to attend court which should help minimise the costs.