The President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Underhill P., has given guidance on the practice of reading witness statements aloud in tribunals.
The full guidance (which is expressly stated to be guidance, not mandatory), can be read at paragraph 16 here. In summary, he states:-
- very often, reading witness statements aloud "achieves nothing of value" and "wastes the time of the Tribunal and the parties"
- but sometimes, it might be helpful to read a particular statement – or section of a statement – aloud if it requires further elucidation. Examples are technical passages in statements, or statements drafted by unrepresented litigants which require clarifying
- if both parties are represented, the lawyers should normally be able to agree whether to take statements as read – albeit it ultimately remains a decision for the tribunal.
He also suggests that those regions where reading statements aloud is standard practice should reconsider whether it remains desirable to keep that practice as standard.