As part of the series reminding litigators of the new year’s resolutions for 2016 we look at resolution number 4: “Think very carefully before signing a statement of truth on behalf of a client”. We have already seen one case this year which brings this home clearly.
A LESS GENTLE REMINDER EARLIER THIS YEAR
A less gentle reminder of the dangers of signing a statement of truth was given in the judgment of DDJ Lingard in Brown -v- Haven
“This is a case where whatever costs were wasted must be paid. It is also a case where I express grave reservations of the practice of a practice of solicitors in possibly putting too much pressure on employees or alternatively not supervising employees properly and in this case a solicitor ignoring the grave importance of the consequences of a statement of truth signed by a solicitor when clearly there was no authority to do it and in any event what was being signed was manifestly incorrect.”
I do not think it could be said any clearer.
KNOW THE RULES OR ELSE YOU’LL GET BLAMED
I will repeat the advice given in the original post on new year’s resolutions.
You should know off by heart this wording from Practice Direction 22 – Statements of Truth.
“3.7 Where a party is legally represented, the legal representative may sign the statement of truth on his behalf. The statement signed by the legal representative will refer to the client’s belief, not his own. In signing he must state the capacity in which he signs and the name of his firm where appropriate.
3.8 Where a legal representative has signed a statement of truth, his signature will be taken by the court as his statement:
(1) that the client on whose behalf he has signed had authorised him to do so,
(2) that before signing he had explained to the client that in signing the statement of truth he would be confirming the client’s belief that the facts stated in the document were true, and
(3) that before signing he had informed the client of the possible consequences to the client if it should subsequently appear that the client did not have an honest belief in the truth of those facts (see rule 32.14).”
Know that if anything goes wrong then the client will probably blame you
GETTING LESS AND LESS GENTLE BY THE MINUTE
I’ll also repeat what was said in the post about the Haven case
” I have written before about the “profound lack of wisdom” in signing statements of truth on behalf of a client. If this is too subtle I can make it clearer: it is silly, dangerous and possibly unethical at times. It puts entire careers at risk. Do this at your peril.
If you are signing a statement of truth on behalf of a client makes sure that you can and do comply, entirely, with the Practice Direction.”
RELATED POSTS ON SIGNING THE STATEMENT OF TRUTH
- The profound lack of wisdom in signing statements of truth on behalf of your client.
- “Taking the statement of truth lightly”
- Signing disclosure statements? Remember you can go to prison.
- Pleadings, the statement of truth and contempt of court: useful guidance from RPC solicitors.
- Witness statements and avoiding jail: are you protecting your clients and protecting yourself?
- Issuing without authority: the dangers of solicitors signing statements of truth
- The importance of the statement of truth: the signatory cannot hide behind the draftsman
- Schedules of damages, wasted costs and the statement of truth.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
- 10 New Year’s Resolutions for litigators in 2016
- Limitation, pain and anguish: a gentle reminder about new year’s resolutions (1)
- A further gentle reminder of your new year’s resolution 2: be careful about the address for service.