The signing of a statement of truth is now an everyday event in litigation. With documents signed by clients, or by lawyers on behalf of their clients. Recent cases highlight the significance of the statement of truth. It is important that familiarity does not lead to contempt. Remember a false statement of truth is contempt.
OBSERVATIONS IN AKRAM
In The Queen on the application of Akram -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1359 (Admin) Sir Brian Leveson considered a case where a principal of a solicitor’s firm had signed a statement of truth in an application. He personally attested that the grounds of the application were true. In a later letter of explanation he stated he did not see the application and it was prepared by a caseworker.
THE JUDGMENT ON THE STATEMENT OF TRUTH
The first is the statement of truth. In Kadyamarunga  EWHC 301 (Admin), the Administrative Court stated at paragraph 29 the following about the importance of statements of truth in immigration cases:
“29 … The purpose behind a Statement of Truth is that the party certifies the accuracy and truth of the matters advanced and is thereby less likely to advance speculative, fanciful or false statements. If the party is cross-examined upon the evidence veracity can become an issue by virtue of the Statement of Truth.”
The statement of truth is not an irrelevant mantra or mere verbiage. This Court has now on a number of occasions reiterated the substantial importance attached to qualified lawyers being in a position diligently and carefully to scrutinise applications made to the Court. In Awuku (No 2) & Others (10th December 2012), the then President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir John Thomas, stated:
“It is not sufficient for an application to be made by a caseworker without scrutiny by a qualified lawyer.”
That observation was made in the context of an application to the Court on an ex parte basis. However, in our view, it applies equally to all applications to the High Court. If, in a given case, an application is drafted by a trainee or caseworker, then it is of high importance that it should be overseen by an experienced lawyer and that a statement of truth in the name of that experienced lawyer should accurately reflect the fact that the lawyer in question takes ownership and responsibility of the facts and matters set out in the application.”
- Drafting witness statements: Guidance from the Bar Council that every litigator should read.
- “Taking the statement of truth lightly”: Contempt of Court when documents were “created” long after the event.
- Witness statements and avoiding jail: are you protecting your clients and protecting yourself?
- Why your witness statement should be made in Chelsea: Making first hand statements avoids penalties.
- Why a solicitor should not make statements on contentious matters
- Drafting witness statements and the lawyer as witness
- Taking evidence: witness statements and not misleading the court: Brett -v- the SRA considered.
- Witness statements are for facts: knowing the difference between evidence and submissions (and why it matters).