5 Essential Steps to Preparing Your Statement for Court

A beginner’s guide to preparing your statement for court

1.  Make sure you know when you have to submit your statement to court and don’t be late

Start preparing your statement for court by making sure you know when you have to submit it.  Courts usually have little patience for people who are late to submit their statement because it causes chaos in their system. 

When you submit it, your statement will have to be added to all the other documents, other people’s statements, reports etc, that are part of the case.  Your statement also has to be given page numbers to fit into the court file or ‘bundle’ and it  has to be done in time for others to read your statement (hopefully including the judge), along with all the other papers, before the actual hearing.  So make sure you get your statement written and submitted by the deadline.

2.   Follow the guidance on presentation

When you start writing, follow any guidance you are given about how your statment for court should be presented.  For example there may be instructions about such matters as line spacing, page numbering and font.  It is very common to have to format your statement to have:

  • Double line spacing;
  • A large font (make sure it is an approved one);
  • Line numbering;
  • Page numbering.

Remember that many of the people who will read your statement and who will make judgements about you, may be busy, tired, perhaps on a train or plane and possibly elderly.  Have pity on them and make it easy for them to read your statement easily and quickly.  Set it out so that the key information is easy to see.

You may also have instructions on how to identify your statement.  This usually requires you to have a front page on which you identify your case by its case number, the court your case is being heard in, the names of the ‘parties’ to the case (i.e. the litigants), the kind of document it is (for example, The (First) Statement of ……, and the  Date.  

Finally, don’t forget to include your ‘statement of truth’ in the proper wording, at the end of your statement along with your signature.

3.  Read everything

Read everything that is sent to you before you write your statement for court.  Often you will have other people’s statements which give the evidence against your case and there may be details in there that you need to notice and respond to.  People will often try to massage or ‘spin’ their evidence to try to make their case stronger.  Don’t do that yourself but read other people’s statements carefully to try to spot anything they have exaggerated, minimised, missed, or even, perhaps, added, that is potentially misleading and could harm your own argument, so that you can respond to it.  

Attention to detail is very much the discipline of lawyers and if you have a lawyer it will be something they do for you but your lawyer can never know your case as well as you do, so you need to play your own part in making sure you have checked everything that is written.

When you notice something important or of special interest in the papers you read, make a note of it as you go along and mark where you saw it.  You don’t want to have to plough through the paperwork again just to find something you noticed when you read it before.  So read the documents with a notebook and a highlighter so that you can find the place again and remember why you thought it was noteworthy.

4.  Stick to the facts, tell the truth and attach any evidence to support your story

In some ways, actually writing your statement is the easiest bit because you know your story already.  Writing the actual content of your statement is more a matter of keeping it simple and clear so that people reading it, perhaps when they are tired or busy, can easily understand it.

It may be appropriate, and helpful to the people who have to read your statement, to have an introductory and brief summary of who you are and what your involvement is.  This would only be useful in a first statement and not to be repeated if you have to provide more statements later.

When giving your account of events, stick to facts; who, what, where, when and with what result.  It’s best to avoid using adjectives to describe events.  You can describe your physical and emotional reactions but keep that separate from your actual account of the facts.  Keep your account as simple and easy to understand as possible.

You should include in your statement any evidence that helps to prove that what you say is true.  This means attaching any photos, documents, emails, texts that confirms your account of events.  Don’t edit or alter any documents or photos.  You don’t want to give the court any reason to doubt the accuracy and truth of your statement and finding out that you have altered your evidence without making that clear is an invitation to question the truth of the rest of your evidence. 

Audio and video recordings may not be allowed as attachments but you can provide written quotes and transcripts from recordings and explain that the recording exists and can be made available to the court if it is needed. 

Remember to label attachments with the correct reference so that people reading your statement can easily see what they refer to and what they help to prove (usually attachments are given a reference made up of your initials and a number, for example ‘Exhibit GH5’.  Then you put the reference in brackets in the text wherever you refer to that attachment.

5.  Check that your statement is true

If you have a lawyer or if you are a prosecution witness for the police, you will have your statement written for you.  But it is still your statement and when you declare it to be the truth and sign it, it becomes your word and not the word of someone else. You are the one who will have to answer questions about it in court and not your lawyer or a police officer, so you need to be absolutely sure that it is true and accurate.  Don’t take the risk of being humiliated, let alone accused of perjury, by allowing anything that is not accurate or true to stay in your statement. 

ONRECORD helps you securely gather, save, access, organise and share your evidence to give you peace of mind.

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