Real People Go to Court

Real People Go to Court

Real people go to court (including the court’s own officers), not fictional ‘reasonable’ characters that may populate the so-called legal village as creatures of judgments handed down; such as the man on the Clapham omnibus, the fair minded and informed observer or the prudent underwriter.

Real people have a range of emotions, including an ability to display conduct that is intemperate and what some might suggest is not measured.

Cross examination is stressful for the witness. The witness is under pressure and unlikely to be in their comfort zone. It might be asking an awful lot to anticipate that cross examination will be something a person just takes in their stride, particularly when there are potentially huge consequences capable of flowing from its assessment by the court as to matters of credibility.

In the matter of Horley v Rubin [2019] EWHC 2016 (Ch) the Court made a brief but notable point about the respondent’s cross examination:

“…having seen Mr Rubin give evidence over two days, I accept that he gave his evidence entirely honestly, and was doing his best to assist the court. Further, I was struck by the diligence and care he took in his correspondence and his internal notes to deal with what was evidently a difficult bankruptcy, because of Mr Horler’s and Mr Millar’s conflicting claims. Occasionally, and understandably, he expressed irritation at the allegations being made against him, but I do not hold that against him at all.”

On the one hand it appears reassuring that the Court did not hold the Respondent’s expression of irritation against him; yet on the other hand the Court still referred to it in the judgment. Given it was deemed occasional and undertandable why was there reference to it?

A person’s display of emotion such as expressions of discontent in the courtroom, does not appear to amount to disorder, so why does it readily seem to feature as an issue?

Leave a Comment