Tom’s Essential Guide To Drafting Your Witness Statement

Last Update: 17th December 2021

Reflecting the key aspects of your case, the accuracy and quality of your witness statement should not be underestimated.

The Employment Tribunal will look to your witness statement as the document that has pulled together the evidence upon which you are advancing your claim. It must therefore be both precise and thorough.

Getting this part of the tribunal process paperwork wrong, could seriously harm your chances of success. If for example, you leave out any important information that you later try to bring up at your final hearing, it will be deemed inadmissible by the judge/judging panel.

Of course, this also applies to those statements made by witnesses you call upon to support your case.

This guide has been produced to help you get this part of the process right to maximise your chances of a successful outcome to your claim.

Putting your evidence into context

This is exactly what your witness statement serves to do. As you begin the process of putting pen to paper, you must remember that it is your witness statement that puts your evidence into context.

In the eyes of the tribunal judge this statement will support each document and piece of evidence (such as CCTV footage, emails etc) upon which you have brought your claim.

ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW

In advance of your hearing, your witness statement will be read by the judge/judging panel and accepted as your evidence for the case they are about to hear.

Thinking carefully in advance of drafting your witness statement about what information you need to include, is an essential first step to ensuring what you provide is relevant. For example, ensure you understand what details are required to meet the legal tests upon which your claim rests.

As one of the most common types of claim, if your case relates to unfair dismissal for example you need to ensure the information you provide in your witness statement meets the legal test of being ‘unfair’.

In advance of laying out why you think your employer dismissed you unfairly, concentrate on highlighting the way in which your employer’s procedure was flawed.

ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW

This cannot be more crucial to understand.

If you omit important evidence within your witness statement and you try to raise something new when giving evidence at your hearing, the judge is likely to stop you.

The phrase “I forgot to mention” will not be acceptable. No matter if it is key to the defence of your case, this information is inadmissible.

By excluding from your written statement, you could have seriously effected the outcome of your case.

Keep it clear and concise

In as far as possible, you should ensure that your statement concisely lays out exactly what happened in a structured chronological order, as if you were narrating a story.

At the outset, provide some background about yourself, your career to date, any specialist skills you have developed, and the nature of your employment within the company.

Follow this with the specifics of your evidence highlighting exactly what occurred to make you advance your claim. Again, keep this in chronological order.

It can really help to start each of your key supportive paragraphs with a date. Where you may be unsure of the exact date of the incident to which you are referring, you could say “around the date of” or refer to a specific event i.e “a few days after the company conference”.

It is important to lay it out chronologically, so it is easy to follow by the reader. Keeping it simple to follow will stand you in good stead as the judge will not have to spend additional time going back and forth through your evidence to understand it.

Lastly, provide some information on where you find yourself now, i.e have you subsequently found another job. If that is the case, you should set out when you commenced employment, your salary etc.

Where you may not have found alternative employment, the tribunal will expect to see what are referred to as your ‘mitigation documents’. These demonstrate the efforts you have made to find to do so.

The Employment Tribunal judge/judging panel will look very favourably where you cross reference your witness statement to your document bundle, as it will allow them to easily refer to the relevant facts of your case.

For example, where your witness statement may say that you were dismissed for a specific reason, you should make reference to the page number in your bundle of your employer’s dismissal correspondence.

The importance of your witness statement lays in the fact that it is your story to the tribunal. Ultimately, it will convey the those key moments and the supporting documentation that will enable them to quickly appreciate the basis of the claim you have brought for them to hear.

On completion

Proof read your witness statement to ensure there are no typographical errors, it is concisely written, factually correct and laid out in easy to follow chronological order. Clearly you should check for spelling or grammatical errors in your witness statement, to ensure it is as perfect as it can be.

If you are happy that it meets all of the above considerations, you can then sign it as ‘the statement of truth’.

Your witness statement will need to be exchanged with the respondent on a designated date specified by the tribunal judge and both sides will typically agree a time on that date to exchange ‘signed statements’ over email.

PLEASE NOTE: Where it may not be possible to exchange signed statements on the specified exchange date, you should advice the opposing party that whilst you are exchanging an unsigned copy, the subsequent signed one will not be different.

Clearly, as specialist employment law solicitors, we can assist you in drafting your witness statement, other elements of the tribunal process paperwork, or represent you in all aspects of advancing your claim.

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If you are pursuing your claim yourself without appointing legal representation, you may find the template below useful when drafting your witness statement:

If you would like our help

If you need help drafting your Witness Statement, one of our solicitors can assist you for a fixed fee charge of £500 – £1,000+VAT. It is worth considering however, that if we believe you have a viable case, we could support you through all aspects of the tribunal process on a no win no fee basis.

You can find out more about our no win no fee policy, or speak to one of our friendly and knowledgable team on 0800 756 6605. You can also forward your details to us 24/7 via our simple online enquiry form. We will then respond within 48 hours by phone, email or text.

Drafting your witness statement