The law waits for no pandemic - changes to Statement of Truth and Witness Statements

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Article

09 April, 2020

With the current restrictions and social distancing measures in place, the way we conduct ourselves has had to adapt and the law is no different. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) which govern how civil matters are prepared and conducted, have been changed to give affect to a new way of doing things.

As of the 06 April 2020, the Practice Direction to Rule 32 of the CPR which governs the preparation of Witness Statements, has been changed to require a comment explaining how the statement was taken, i.e. face to face or over the telephone for example. This is a mandatory obligation and a breach of the CPR can have serious penalties.

It is envisioned that the majority of Witness Statements taken during these difficult times, will be taken remotely, via telephone or video conferencing, and so this additional step comes at a very appropriate time.

The Practice Direction to Rule 22 of the CPR is also changing. This Rule specifies the wording of a Statement of Truth. A Statement of Truth should only be signed where the signatory believes that the contents of the document are true to the best of their knowledge and belief. By signing a Statement of Truth where you do not hold that belief, is very serious, and can lead to Contempt of Court proceedings as the signatory has mis-lead the Court. The new changes, bring that into very sharp focus. All Statements of Truth must now be accompanied by the following:-

"I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth."

If you are engaged in legal proceedings, these changes should not affect the advice you are given or the running of your case.

For more information contact Michael Chambers in our Dispute Resolution department via email or phone on 0333 207 0740. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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