Check Your Witness Statement

Check Your Witness Statement Before Signing

Check Your Witness Statement was something that sprouted as an issue in the case of Patel & Anor v Barlows Solicitors (a firm) & Ors [2020] EWHC 2753 (Ch).

The case had many facets and for the purpose of this post, it concentrates on what the judge said about a Witness Statement issue that arose. It would appear that anyone about to sign a Witness Statement might wish to bear these points in mind.

“46 Mr Stanley’s second witness statement contained the usual statement of truth, which he had signed. The sum claimed by the Second Defendants pursuant to the Expenses Application (i.e. the Trust Costs) was in excess of £180,000 (to include VAT and disbursements). It was supported by various schedules, with the narratives of those schedules redacted in case they contained privileged information. Prior to Mr Stanley being cross-examined on his written evidence, I had a detailed exchange with Mr Vickery about why the Expenses Application was made so late, given that if I acceded to it, a substantial part of the Settlement Amount might need to be paid to the Second Defendants even if the First Claimant was successful in the Claim. If the First Claimant knew that he was unlikely to recover whole or a substantial part of the Settlement Amount (because all or most of it might constitute Trust Costs), he might have decided not to proceed with the Claim.

47 When Mr Stanley was taken through the schedules which he had appended to his witness statement, it became apparent that the claim made by the Second Defendants, pursuant to the Expenses Application, was not just for the Trust Costs (i.e. for collecting and realising the Negligence Claim and preserving and distributing the Settlement Amount) but the whole of the bankruptcy. I accept that this was a genuine error on his part. As he said, he should have checked the schedules more thoroughly. However, it is extraordinary that neither he nor his solicitors appreciated, at the time of his signature of the witness statement, that the information he had provided was grossly inaccurate and wholly misleading or why he had not considered the contents of his witness statement before he confirmed on oath that he believed those contents to be true. He only confirmed that he had made the error when he was being cross-examined.

48 The law rightly exacts high standards from insolvency practitioners. The Second Defendants (and particularly Mr Stanley) have fallen seriously short of those standards in the present case.”

‘Check Your Witness Statement’ is a post for information purposes only. It is not legal advice and not to be accepted by Oliver Elliot as such. No reliance should be placed upon it and no liability is accepted for doing so. Contact us for advice about insolvency.