It has recently been identified that many witness statements filed in family law proceedings were prepared in breach of professional standards.

As a result, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued a memorandum setting out how witness statements in family court proceedings should be prepared, to ensure they comply with professional standards.

What are the requirements of a witness statement?

 A witness statement must:

  • Tell the parties and the court what evidence a party intends to rely on at a final hearing;
  • Be expressed in the first person using the witness’s own words;
  • Be factual and state what was seen, heard, or felt by the person writing the statement;
  • As a general rule of thumb, not exceed 15 pages in length;
  • Only set out matters of fact, information, and belief (e.g. events that have happened or events expected to happen);
  • Include a source of any matters of information and belief. Evidence about proposed child arrangements, or ‘needs’ in financial remedy cases will constitute matters of information and belief.

A witness statement must not:

Quote at any length from any document;

  • Seek to argue the case;
  • Take the Court through the documents in the case;
  • Set out a narrative derived from the documents;
  • Express the opinions of the witness; or
  • Use rhetoric.

It is important to remember that the other party will see your witness statement, so if you need your address to remain confidential, you should advise the court of this and not include your address in the witness statement.

Why are witness statements so crucial?

Witness statements are a fundamental way of providing evidence to support a party’s case in court proceedings. They are crucial evidence and are designed to show a party’s position in the strongest light.

Your witness statement is possibly the only opportunity you will have to tell the court your point of view and ensure that they understand your proposals. It is therefore fundamental that your witness statement is as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

How can we help?

Your witness statement will be your evidence to the court. It is your opportunity to truly ‘have your say’.

If you have been directed to file a witness statement in family law proceedings, it is in your interests to ensure that your statement is well drafted and conveys your position in the best way possible.

We can offer background assistance to you with the drafting of your witness statement, to ensure that it is prepared in accordance with the professional standards expected by the court.

Join our mailing list for news and updates

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

The Friendly Family Lawyer will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.