Difficulties when interviewing witnesses
Difficulties when interviewing witnesses

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Difficulties when interviewing witnesses
  • Reluctant or forgetful witnesses
  • Witness payment
  • Non-English speaking witnesses
  • Unavailable witnesses
  • Witness summary—Rule 32.9
  • Evidence by deposition—Rule 34.8 and Rule 34.15
  • Court specific guidance

In this Practice Note, we identify difficulties which may arise when interviewing or ‘proofing’ witnesses and what approach to take in light of CPR requirements and case authorities. Examples include reluctant or forgetful witnesses, whether you can make any payments to witnesses and how to deal with a non-English speaking witness. The use of depositions for absent witnesses and payments of deponents are explored together with the use of witness summaries under Rule 32.9. Guidance is offered on the form and format, serving witness summaries and the consequences under Rule 32.10 for failing to serve a witness summary within the time period specified by the court.

This Practice Note provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the CPR. Depending on the court in which your matter is proceeding, you may also need to be mindful of additional provisions—see further below.

Reluctant or forgetful witnesses

You may find that a witness is reluctant to give evidence. There could be any number of reasons for this and it may be sensible to explore why this is the case and whether you can address the witness's concerns. You may also find it appropriate to explore the following:

  1. witness summons—witness summons are issued by the court to require a witness to attend court to give evidence and/or produce documents. This