Witness evidence during a criminal trial
Produced in partnership with Matthew Sorel-Cameron of Red Lion Chambers

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Matthew Sorel-Cameron of Red Lion Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Witness evidence during a criminal trial
  • Preliminaries
  • Sequence of questioning
  • Examination-in-chief
  • Refreshing memory in court
  • Previous consistent statements
  • Hostile witnesses
  • Cross-examination by the accused
  • Tendering or summonsing a prosecution witness for cross-examination
  • Previous inconsistent statements
  • More...

Witness evidence during a criminal trial

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020). CA 2020, among other measures, makes provision for the extended use of live links and audio links in criminal proceedings to give judges more options for avoiding adjournments and keeping business moving through the courts to help reduce delays in the administration of justice while the pandemic is in full swing. See Practice Notes: Operation of the criminal courts during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR)—update for Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as Availability of live links in criminal proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—checklist. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Notes: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

This Practice Note explains the procedural requirements and practical issues which need to be satisfied when dealing with witness evidence in criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. For information on the additional rules which apply to expert evidence, see Practice Note: Expert evidence in criminal proceedings.


A number of common sense preliminary rules relating to the giving of evidence by witnesses are set out in the Criminal Procedure Rules 2020, SI 2020/759:

  1. unless the court directs otherwise:

    1. a witness waiting to give evidence must not wait inside the courtroom,

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