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Silent majority

Witness statements in employment tribunals should only be read aloud in exceptional circumstances, argues Mark Conway

14 February 2011

A recent EAT decision, Mehta v CSA [2010] UKEAT/127/10, points the way to a long overdue change in employment tribunal practice; namely that where an order has been made for the exchange of witness statements those statements should routinely stand as the evidence-in-chief of witnesses, and that in all regions, not just some, the reading out of a witness statement should become exceptional.

The claimant was unrepresented in an unfair dismissal case listed for two days. At the end of a slow first day in which two of the respondent’s three witnesses had read their statements aloud, the employment judge obtained the consent of the parties for the tribunal to read for themselves the statement of the respondent’s third witness and the claimant’s own statement.

Following an adverse finding, the claimant appealed, asserting that she had not understood that by the judge’s proposal she would not also be able to read her statement aloud, and that she was disadvant...

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