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The general principle is that courts should only accept evidence from witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the facts. Witnesses should attend court and give live oral testimony.
Witness statements of the evidence a party intends to rely on at trial must be served.
If the witness statements are not served, the evidence cannot be relied upon except
CPR 32.10 with the permission of the court and this will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
If a party has served a witness statement of the evidence he wishes to rely at trial, he
must call the witness to give oral evidence unless the court orders otherwise or he puts the statement in as hearsay evidence.
A witness can expand on court on his witness statement with the court's permission.
If a witness is uncooperative or cannot be traced, it is possible, with the court's
CPR 32.9 permission, to serve a witness summary instead of a witness statement.
A witness summary is basically just that; a summary of what that witness would have said if a statement had been obtained.
A party can follow the procedure set down in Part 34 to issue a witness summons,
CPR 34.2 requiring a witness to attend court to give oral evidence.
Risky -that party may have no prior knowledge of what the witness will say in court.
Hearsay Evidence - Civil Evidence Act 1995
Hearsay = 'a statement made otherwise than by a person while giving oral evidence in
S.1(2) CEA 1995 the proceedings which is tendered as evidence of the matters stated.'
S.1 CEA 1995
Hearsay evidence admissible
S.2 CEA 1995
Notice required for hearsay evidence
In estimating the weight (if any) to be given to hearsay evidence in civil proceedings the
S.4 CEA 1995 court shall have regard to any circumstances from which any inference can reasonably be drawn as to the reliability or otherwise of the evidence.
CPR 33.2 & 3
Notice procedure to rely on hearsay evidence
The general rule is that opinion evidence is not admissible. The function of a witness is to relate the facts to the court so that the court can draw its own conclusions.
"Where a person is called as a witness in any civil proceedings, a statement of opinion by him on any relevant matter on which he is not qualified to give expert evidence, if made
S.3(2) CEA 1995 as a way of conveying relevant facts personally perceived by him, is admissible as evidence of what he perceived."
Directions about experts will normally be given after allocation and the track to which the case is allocated will usually determine the amount of expert evidence permitted. Equally, the requirements for expert evidence can dictate the track.
Small claims track: no expert evidence at a hearing without the permission of the court.
Fast track claims: usual approach is to order a single joint expert, unless the court directs otherwise.
Multi-track claims: no specific restrictions on expert evidence subject to any directions the court gives.
Restricted to that reasonably required to resolve the proceedings.
Duty of expert to help the court within his/her expertise - overrides any obligation to
CPR 35.3 person who has paid or instructed him/her.
Permission of court required for expert evidence - need to identify field of expertise and
(where practicable) details of expert and costs estimate.
Expert evidence to be in a written report unless court orders otherwise.
Expert must make a statement of truth.
Court's power to direct that evidence be given by single joint expert.
The expert witness must be suitably qualified/experienced in an area that is an established field of expertise.
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