Related Sector: Expert Witness

Many witnesses will be giving evidence remotely for the first time and are not sure how to do so. Take this quick 10 question self assessment knowledge test. Hope you enjoy it!

QUESTIONS

1. You have not given evidence remotely before and want to set you the room appropriately.

What should you do:

A.    Build a witness box based on photographs of real courtrooms
B.    Build a mini witness box out of cardboard boxes put on top of a table
C.    Sit behind a well lit desk or table
D.    Just sit on a chair

2. You are setting up the camera on your device. You know the judge needs to see your demeanour as a witness.

What should the camera show:

A.    Your whole body standing
B.    Your head and shoulders whilst sitting
C.    Just your head
D.    A close up of your face

3. The judge opens the proceedings.

What should you do:

A.    Stand up and bow
B.    Stand up straight
C.    Remain seated and bow
D.    Remain seated

4. The judge asks if you wish to swear or affirm. You wish to take the oath but you have no Bible.

What should you do:

A.    Use a large book but wrapped in plain paper with the word “Bible” written on it.
B.    You don’t need a bible so just place your right hand on your chest and say the oath.
C.    You don’t need a bible just repeat the words of the oath as directed or say “I do” when asked.
D.    Say you will take the affirmation instead as you have no Bible.

5. You have started your evidence but the door bell rings. You suspect it's an Amazon delivery.

What should you do:

A.    Put your devise so as to mute the video and sound and answer the door as quickly as you can
B.    Quickly run to the door pretending the internet connection is faulty
C.    Ask the judge for permission to answer the door
D.    Ignore the interruption as you would have put up an appropriate sign on the door before starting your evidence

6. The judge adjourns the hearing at 1 pm for lunch and you are in the middle of your evidence.

What should you do:

A.    Stay in place in front on the camera and wait till 2 pm
B.    Have lunch with your partner
C.    Have lunch with your partner and talk about how you could improve you evidence giving after lunch
D.    Have lunch alone and speak to no one.

7. You want to see how you can improve your evidence giving.

What should you do:

A.    Press record on your device when you start your evidence
B.    Ask the judge if you can record your evidence
C.    Practice giving your evidence with a friend before the hearing
D.    Have a mirror behind the camera to see how you are doing

8. Counsel asks a question that could make you liable in some way.

What should you do:

A.    Plead the Fifth Amendment
B.    Say “ Beam me up Scottie”
C.    Ask the Judge for direction
D.    Stare at the camera

9. You are nervous about giving evidence.

What should you do:

A.    Have a friend sit behind the camera to encourage you
B.    Have vodka in what appears to be a water glass
C.    Prepare carefully before the hearing
D.    E mail the court to say you are ill

10. You are worried you may forget things.

What should you do:

A.    Put large posters behind the camera with the key points of your evidence
B.    Have a second screen which only you can see with useful reminders to help the court
C.    Refer to the documents in the court bundle of documents
D.    Hide some notes in paperwork in front of you

ANSWERS

Click here to view the answers

REFERENCES AND ACTION STEPS

Have a look at this article that has some really useful tips on giving remote evidence: https://www.newlawjournal.co.uk/content/camera-shy-top-online-tips-for-expert-witnesses

Also Bond Solon provides comprehensive preparation for witness familiarisation: https://bondsolon.com/witness-familiarisation/

On 19 March, The Lord Chief Justice published a message to judges in civil and family courts
https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-message-from-the-lord-chief-justice-to-judges-in-the-civil-and-family-courts/

Lord Burnett said the default position now in all jurisdictions “must be that hearings should be conducted with one, more than one or all participants attending remotely”. He gives some useful guidance on the way forward.

Civil courts

The Judiciary issued the Civil Justice in England and Wales Protocolregarding remote hearings released on 20 March 2020:
https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Civil-court-guidance-on-how-to-conduct-remote-hearings.pdf

Family Courts

On 23 March, Mr Justice MacDonald produced The Remote Access Family Court Version 1:
https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/The-Remote-Access-Family-Court.pdf

You should in particular look at Appendix 2 which includes:

“32. Where a witness attends the remote hearing the witness will be sworn or affirmed by the judge prior to commencement of their evidence. The witness is to be alone, in a secure room with the doors closed. The witness is to ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of their appearance at the remote hearing. The witness should have recently re-read all affidavits or statements made by him or her in the proceedings and have a copy of those documents with them.”

Criminal Courts

The CPS has provided some guidance for criminal trials:
https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/live-links

Also the National remote link sites protocol for use by criminal justice service agencies and partner agencies for witnesses providing evidence via live video links at locations away from a court building.
https://www.cps.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/publications/Remote-Link-Sites-Protocol.pdf

Mark Solon
Founder of Bond Solon and Solicitor
info@bondsolon.com
020 7549 2549

This post was first published on the 1st of May 2020.


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