3 April 2020

Civil Procedure Update: There's no escaping the truth

Anyone who has been involved in Litigation will be aware of the existence of Statements of Truth.  Put simply the statement of truth is made by a person signing documents such as claim forms, particulars of claim and witness statements confirming that they have an honest belief that the contents of that document is true.  If it is later found that what was contained in those documents was untrue and that honest belief did not exist then the signatory can be found to be in contempt of court.   This is all contained in the Civil Procedure Rules and it is part of the solicitor’s job to explain this to their client in advance of these documents being signed.  

However, with effect from 24 February 2020 the obligation was made more explicit.  From then the statement of truth in claims presented through the Online Money Claims Pilot needed to include a statement that the person signing the statement of truth (or the person on whose behalf the statement of truth is signed) understood that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth. 

Additionally, from 6 April 2020 amendments to Parts 22 and 32 of the Civil Procedure Rules covering witness statements and statements of truth will come into effect.  The additional wording will need to be included in all statements of truth signed from 6 April 2020.  Witness statements will also need to specify how the statement was given (be it in person, over the telephone or through an interpreter) and “be in the witness’ own language”. 

The wording of the new statement of truth for statements of case and application notices will be as follows: 

[I believe] [The party believes] that the facts stated in this [name of document] are true.  I  understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.

 For witness statements, the statement of truth’s wording will be as follows:

I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.  I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.

The intention of this all is clearly to ensure that the person signing these important legal documents is left without any doubt as to how important it is that they advance a truthful case and if they don’t, a heavy fine or worse, a prison sentence, awaits them. 

 
 

 

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