Plain Guide to Litigation: The hearing and subsequent matters

2. The purpose of a proof

The proof is the opportunity for witnesses to give evidence and for their evidence to be tested. It is expected that all the evidence will be led at the one hearing. You will not get a second chance. All the evidence from each witness must normally be led in one continuous stage. Occasionally, a court may agree to having a witness recalled to deal with some new point but that is unusual.

Because a witness is only allowed one opportunity to give evidence, it is important to cover all the ground properly. This, of course, is particularly important when you are trying to establish your own case. You do not want to risk leaving something out. But it gives rise to a particular difficulty when you are cross examining. Because it is not normal practice to recall witnesses, you must give the other side’s witnesses a chance to comment on the substance of any evidence you expect to lead. That is known as “putting your case to the witness” and we discuss it further below when looking at some of the basic techniques of cross-examination.

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