Witnesses in civil proceedings
If you are asked to become a witness in a forthcoming High Court trial by one of the litigants, you need to be prudent.
Civil trials, especially when the claimant’s core claim is an allegation of fraud against the defendant, can be conducted with ferocity. The implications even for a witness can be devastating. Aggressive or derisive cross-examination is an ordeal. If later the trial judge in their written judgment makes hostile findings to the effect that your testimony was untruthful, evasive or unreliable then damage to your career, business or reputation may be hard to repair. Moreover your testimony may stimulate an unwelcome investigation, particularly if you work in the regulated sector.
Acting for individuals caught up in claims and counterclaims of fraud or dishonesty is one of our specialisms. We assist and advise people in this situation not only in the context of High Court cases but also in relation to overseas litigation and arbitration.
If becoming a witness is unavoidable then we assist with the preparation of the witness statement, appreciating that every word is important and using our expertise to help draft it anticipating likely lines of attack by the other side. If there is a real risk of parallel proceedings, for example a criminal prosecution based on similar facts, we advise on how to manage the risk. If there is an anxiety about self-incrimination we advise about protective measures.
- Advising a board level executive in the civil proceedings concerning Tesco.
- Advising a board level executive in the civil proceedings concerning ENRC.
- Advising a witness in the Libyan Investment Authority civil proceedings.
- Advising a former public company director facing a shareholder action in the USA.