What is the difference between a witness statement and a position statement?

By Ramneek Kaur LLB

What is the difference between a witness statement and position statement? I don’t think I can be the only one who has questioned what the difference is. I was working on a case the other day, where I was drafting my client’s position statement after a meeting with her, when this came into my mind. Many of you will say what is there to question, it is self-explanatory as the name says what it is. However, it can be confusing because the two tend to overlap quite a bit.

To fully understand the two statements and clear the confusion I decided to research this from various sources and consolidate it.

Witness Statements:

Practice Direction 32 outlines what is needed in a witness statement. A witness statement includes evidence to support your position. You are writing it in the past tense, about what has happened, and you are telling the court what you have seen and heard. It can only be written by party (or their witness). Rule 3.2204 paragraph 18.1 illustrates that a witness statement must be written “in the intended witness’ own words and the statement should be expressed in first person”. You cannot submit it unless you are ordered by the court. It includes your name, address and it must be signed and dated. You may also be cross-examined based on your witness statement.

The most important point is that a witness statement must verified by a statement of truth which is outlined by the Practice Direction 32 as a “witness statement is the equivalent of the oral evidence that the witness would give in evidence”.

Position Statements:

Practice Direction 27A outlines the contents of a bundle which includes a position statement. It does not necessarily include evidence but should consist of concise facts about what you want to happen now and/or in the future, and if you agree with what other people, such as Cafcass advisors, are saying should happen. However, you can add evidence alongside your position statement if you wish. It can be written by a barrister, solicitor, or litigant in person. You can write and send this to the court even without a court order directing you to. Your name and address are not included, and you do not need to sign or date the statement. There is also no cross-examining of the statement because it is not evidence.

The most important point is that a position statement does not need a statement of truth. This is one of the key differences between the two documents. Although you can add the statement of truth in the end to corroborate the statement.

In conclusion, the main differences between the two statements are that witness statements are about events that have occurred in the past and they need to end with the statement of truth. Whereas position statements are about events that are happening in the present and/or in the future and they do not need to end with the statement of truth unless you want to add it.

Written by Ramneek Kaur, Legal Assistant at Brady Harvey Legal. She holds an LLB Degree from University of Essex and is completing her LLM SQE at the University of Law.

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