All witnesses, whether factual witnesses or experts such as engineers or doctors give evidence in the same way. If you are called to give evidence, this is what will happen:
- You will be asked to sit in the witness box and take an oath or make an affirmation.
- Your representative will then lead you through your evidence by asking several questions, starting with easy ones such as your name and address to help you to tell the court your version of events. In some cases, you may be asked to read out your statement which has been prepared before the trial. Remember, don’t give your opinion unless you have been asked to do so and above all, don’t panic.
- Next, the other side’s representative will have a chance to cross-examine you. The idea of this is to test the accuracy of what you have said and how reliable you are as a witness. Cross-examination is rarely hostile – the judge will not allow counsel to be rude or badger witnesses.
- However pleasant the barrister who is cross-examining you may seem to be, you need to answer only the question which is asked and you do not need to volunteer any extra information. Be concise and precise.
- After that your own representative may wish to re-examine you – that is ask a few more questions to clear up any points which may have been left in doubt after the cross-examination.
- If there is more than one party on each side, there may be more than two representatives asking you questions. For instance, if you are the claimant, when you have given your version of events, you may be cross-examined by the First Defendant’s representative and the Second Defendant’s representative. Don’t forget also that the judge may ask you questions themselves at any time.
- Remember that it is the judge who needs to hear your answers and so direct your voice towards them and speak slowly and clearly.
This is a very general guide but we hope that you find it helpful. If you are unsure about any aspect of the trial or want to know more about any stage of the proceedings, Minster Law will be happy to answer any queries which you may have.