The requirements of the CPR that deal with the signing of statements of truth when the witness is unable to read the document are clear and easy to follow, but it can be easy to fail in order to get it right; this is often problematic and it can be something to be relied upon in a successful application to strike-out a claim.
1. CPR 22 3A.1 states:
“Where a document containing a statement of truth is to be signed by a person who is unable to read or sign the document, it must contain a certificate made by an authorised person.”
An authorised person is specified by CPR 22 3A.2 to be a person able to administer oaths and take affidavits, but they do not need to be independent of the parties or their representatives.
2. CPR 22 3A.4 directs that the form of the certificate which must be used appears in Annex 1 to the Practice Direction:
“I certify that I [name and address of authorised person] have read over the contents of this document and the declaration of truth to the person signing the document [if there are exhibits, add ‘and explained the nature and effect of the exhibits referred to in it’] who appeared to understand (a) the document and approved its content as accurate and (b) the declaration of truth and the consequences of making a false declaration, and made his mark in my presence.”
3. The consequences of failing to verify a document with a statement of truth are set out at CPR 22 4. A statement of case remains effective, unless it is struck out, but a party may not rely on the contents of a statement of case as evidence until it has been verified by a statement of truth. 4.2 states that any party can apply to the court for an unless order specifying that the statement of case must be verified by the service of a statement of truth, failing which the statement of case will be struck out. 4.3 specifies that the usual order for the costs of an application for an unless order will be that the party who failed to verify will pay the costs.
4. Many practitioners draft witness evidence in English and, if the witness requires the assistance of a translator, add a certificate in the form of Annex 1 to CPR 22 to the witness statement. However, CPR 32.4(1) specifies that “a witness statement is a written statement signed by a person which contains the evidence which that person would be allowed to give orally.” When a witness will not give their evidence orally in English, the statement should be in the language the witness will use; that statement should then be translated into English.
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