The importance of witness statements - a stark reminder

The importance of witness statements - a stark reminder

Duncan Harrop v Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust 2018 is a timely reminder of the importance of covering all relevant issues in statements. Despite its success at trial, the Defence witness statements were found to omit important detail which Mrs Justice Lambert found unreasonable.

As a result she reduced a substantial proportion of the Defence costs. The trial commenced on 12.03.18 and on day 3, the Claimant discontinued his action on the basis of new evidence that had emerged from one of the Defendant’s witnesses during cross-examination which substantially altered the Claimant’s prospects.

The claimant alleged that if the clinician had included this “new” evidence in his original witness statement the case would never have reached trial. 

This highlights the importance for legal advisors to ensure statements cover all salient facts and are reviewed periodically following each step in the disclosure process and in consequence the normal order for costs did not apply.