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Too many witness statements prepared in breach of proper professional standards, says top family judge

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued a memorandum setting out how witness statements should be prepared for use in the Family Courts to ensure they meet proper professional standards.

In the introduction Sir Andrew McFarlane said: “Too many witness statements are prepared in breach of proper professional standards.

“It is clear that this problem is not confined to proceedings in the Family Court. It has become so acute in the Business and Property Courts that it has been necessary to pass a highly prescriptive Practice Direction – CPR PD 57AC – to seek to deal with the problem.”

The Family President said he did not consider that the Family Court needed an equivalent Practice Direction, “at least not at the present time”.

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However, the Family Procedure Rule Committee would have to consider introducing such a measure if the principles in the memorandum are not observed, he added.

The memorandum covers:

  • The fundamental requirements.
  • Facts, information and belief.
  • Documents.
  • Memory.
  • Length of the statement.
  • Sanctions.
  • Template for litigants in person in non-complex private law welfare cases.

A copy of the memorandum can be viewed here.


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