Witness statements

Witness statements are the normal form in which witness evidence is given in civil proceedings. The form of witness statements is dictated by CPR Practice Direction 32. It is important that witness statements comply with these directions.  CPR practice direction 32 provides the following:

8.1 The witness statement must, if practicable, be in the intended witness’s own words and must in any event be drafted in their own language, the statement should be expressed in the first person and should also state:

(1) the full name of the witness,

(2) his place of residence or, if he is making the statement in his professional, business or other occupational capacity, the address at which he works, the position he holds and the name of his firm or employer,

(3) his occupation, or if he has none, his description,

(4) the fact that he is a party to the proceedings or is the employee of such a party if it be the case; and

(5) the process by which it has been prepared, for example, face-to-face, over the telephone, and/or through an interpreter.

18.2 A witness statement must indicate:

(1) which of the statements in it are made from the witness’s own knowledge and which are matters of information or belief, and

(2) the source for any matters of information or belief.

18.3 An exhibit used in conjunction with a witness statement should be verified and identified by the witness and remain separate from the witness statement.

18.4 Where a witness refers to an exhibit or exhibits, he should state ‘I refer to the (description of exhibit) marked‘…’’.

18.5 The provisions of paragraphs 11.3 to 15.4 (exhibits) apply similarly to witness statements as they do to affidavits.

18.6 Where a witness makes more than one witness statement to which there are exhibits, in the same proceedings, the numbering of the exhibits should run consecutively throughout and not start again with each witness statement.

Paragraph 20. 1 of the Practice Direction stipulates that the witness statement must be verified by a statement of truth. It also gives the wording of that statement as follows:

20.1 A witness statement is the equivalent of the oral evidence which that witness would, if called, give in evidence; it must include a statement by the intended witness in their own language that they believe the facts in it are true.

20.2 To verify a witness statement the statement of truth 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.’