Precedent: Witness statement example (Word document)

If you’ve submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal for, for example, unfair dismissal then you’ll be expected to comply with the directions that the Employment Tribunal gives to you. These directions will include the sending of a schedule of loss to the Respondent, the disclosure of documents, and the exchange of witness statements, among other things. To comply with these directions you’ll therefore want to know how to draft a witness statement and what to do with it. As a result we’re going to concentrate in this post on what a witness statement is, why you need to draft a witness statement, and how to draft a witness statement. A witness statement example is included.

  1. What is a witness statement?
  2. Why do I have to write a witness statement?
  3. How do I draft a witness statement?
  4. Will I still have to attend the Hearing if I give a witness statement?
  5. Where can I find a witness statement example?

What is a witness statement?

A witness statement is a statement of fact taken from each witness (including the Claimant). This statement should be in a written format. It should set out the facts that the witness knows in more or less chronological order. It should not include the witness’ opinion. For example, a statement that “Mr Murphy said ‘get out and don’t come back’ to the Claimant” is fine – this is a statement of fact (what happened). However, “I think that Mr Murphy’s treatment of the Claimant was unfair” is not OK – this is a statement of your opinion.

Why do I have to write a witness statement?

A witness statement is a crucial piece of evidence in the Employment Tribunal. As stated above, the Employment Tribunal normally requires that exchange of witness statements between the parties take place prior to a hearing. The Employment Tribunal will almost always require – and will expect to receive – written (typed) witness statements to be presented to it prior to or on the day of the Employment Tribunal hearing. If the Tribunal doesn’t receive a copy of your witness statement then you may (potentially) be prevented from presenting your evidence.

How do I draft a witness statement?

The thing that trips most unrepresented Claimants up in drafting witness statements is the format of the witness statement, not its content. The format is extremely important – if the font is illegible or the Employment Judge can’t refer to a specific paragraph because your witness statement isn’t numbered then you’re immediately on the back foot. You don’t want to annoy the Employment Judge – and you certainly will do if you don’t deal with your case in a sensible manner.

The format of the witness statement

A witness statement should:

  • Be in writing
  • Be typed
  • Be double spaced
  • Have numbered, short paragraphs
  • Have wide margins

The content of the witness statement

There are certain absolute requirements for a witness statement set out in the Civil Procedure Rules. The statement should:

  • Detail on whose behalf the statement is made
  • Include the initials and surname of the witness
  • Reference the date the statement was made
  • Include the witness’ home address (assuming the person giving the statement isn’t giving it in a professional capacity)
  • Include the witness’ occupation
  • Include a statement of truth

The statement shouldn’t be overly long. Most Employment Tribunals now try and limit the word count of witness statements, often to a maximum of 2,000 words. It’s therefore very important that you’re to the point and don’t waffle. Only include relevant facts and include these facts (if possible) in chronological order. This makes the statement more coherent and easy to read. If your case is an unfair dismissal case then you’ll want to deal with the events leading up to your dismissal and (if relevant) the investigation, disciplinary and appeal procedure. If you refer to documents in the trial bundle then make sure you reference these. For example, if there is a relevant email at page 23 of the Trial Bundle that you refer to in your witness statement, write something like this: “On 3rd June 2011 Mr Murphy sent me an email (page 23)…”.

The Claimant should begin their witness statement by setting out certain facts about them, for example (among other things)

  • their age
  • whether they’re married and have children
  • what date they started their employment with the Respondent (if relevant)
  • what promotions they received at the Respondent
  • whether they enjoyed their job at the Respondent
  • if they had a good disciplinary record, that they have a good disciplinary record (but they should leave that out if they’ve got a bad disciplinary record)

Will I still have to attend the Hearing if I give a witness statement?

Yes, unless you agree with the other side that it’s not necessary for you to attend. You will not be required to attend only on the rarest of occasions – the other side will want to question you on your evidence.

Where can I find a witness statement example?

You can find a witness statement example here.

Redmans Solicitors are London employment lawyers and offer employment law advice to employees and employers. They are specialist unfair dismissal no win no fee solicitors and offer Employment Tribunal no win no fee representation

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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