The the observations by District Judge Etherington reported by John Hyde in the Law Society Gazette deserve repetition and the widest audience possible. (The Readers’ comments on the article also make for interesting reading).
THE GAZETTE REPORT
The District Judge was speaking at a recent Law Society conference.
‘Time and time again I see, particularly in personal injury or RTA cases, there is no sensible narrative about where the duty of care lies and what caused the accident. It is the simple building blocks of a witness statement and it’s not good enough,’ said Etherington.
‘They are more interested in what the weather was or how long the ambulance took to arrive. They have not applied their mind to actually what the accident is about – does this witness statement prove liability? If you read the statement and can’t be satisfied then something is wrong.’
Etherington said he had one recent case where the claimant firm produced a single letter from the client as evidence in chief, then sought almost £2,000 in costs for the preparation of witness statement.
‘There was an absolute disconnect between the work that was done and the schedules,’ he added.
GIVE YOURSELF A BAD NAME…
The report of the speech goes on:-
- There are areas when you can give yourself a bad name.
- The task is given to the most junior members of staff who are not qualified.
- Counsel were often left hoping that the judge would ask certain questions to get certain facts in front of them.
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING (BY THE JUDGE)
The Judge tweeted a link on Twitter to a post on this blog which he mentioned in the talk and that highlights the Chancery Guide to Witness Statements
RELATED POSTS ON WITNESS STATEMENTS
There are numerous posts on witness statements on this blog. Two of the most widely read are:
- Witness statements: The Chancery Guide: Something for us all.
- Drafting witness statements that comply with the rules: a checklist too important to ignore.
In relation to the lawyer’s duty:-
- Witness statements and avoiding jail: are you protecting your clients and protecting yourself?
- My witness statement was drafted by my lawyer: thank you officer.
- Drafting witness statements: Guidance from the Bar Council that every litigator should read.
- Taking evidence: witness statements and not misleading the court.
- Witness statements: the lawyer’s duty not to mislead
- Fraudulent claimants and the need for self-protection by lawyers
- Witness statements: when things go wrong – blame the solicitor.
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