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Civil litigation brief

Gordon Exall looks at judicial observations on witness statements and argues that the drafting of witness statements is a neglected craft

25 October 2002

The judgment of H H Judge Dean QC in E D and F Man Liquid Products Ltd v Patel [2002] 1706 EWHC (QB) should be required reading because of the detailed analysis of the authorities in relation to the setting aside of a regular judgment. Initially I was going to review the case with this analysis in mind. However if the judgment is fully reported – and it should be – the comments made by the judge, considering cost issues, at the end of the transcript are invariably ommitted. In the transcript Judge Dean’s observations in relation to witness statements are extremely trenchant and deserve wider coverage. Over-extensive witness statements The judge was considering a submission that a witness statement was over-extensive. According to the costs schedule, it had taken a week to prepare. In addition to evidence it contained comments on legal points arising in the case. In defence of the statement it was argued that, in the Commercial Court, there was ‘a long and h...

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