In what is likely to be one of the very first decisions over the interpretation of the new PD22 and PD32 (the new statement of truth and the requirements as to the contents of a statement in a foreign language) David Calvert successfully argued on behalf of TUI UK (the Defendant) that the provisions should only apply to a witness statement signed after the new rules came into effect (April 2020), and should not apply to statements signed before that date but subsequently served after that date.
The background to this case concerned the Defendant's evidence from a hotel manager which was contained in a witness statement signed and dated in March 2020 with the “old” statement of truth. After various agreed extensions for exchange, the witness the statements were then exchanged in mid – April; after the new provisions came into effect.
The Claimant then made an application to compel the Defendants to re-serve the witness statement in accordance with the new rule, arguing that the effective date for compliance was the date of service, not the date of signature.
David successfully argued that date of signature must be the applicable date, as that provides certainty to the witness at the point of signing that his evidence is true. Otherwise circumstances may arise between signature and service whereby the witness’s evidence might have changed. This would put the witness in an invidious position if the date of service was some weeks or months after the date of signature.
It would also lead to the result that the witness would have to sign a statement with two different statements of truth – the old statement of truth in March 2020 and then re-sign with the new statement of truth when the statement was served in April 2020.
DDJ Thexton, who heard the case at Carlisle County Court, agreed that the effective date was the date of signature and not date of service.
This meant that the old statement of truth applied and not the new provisions of PD22 (or PD32).
There was also a subsidiary point argued by the Claimant, in that the new requirements under PD32 that the statement should be in the witnesses “own language” meant it had to be in their native tongue. Again, the judge agreed with the Defendants that “own language” is a matter for the witness and if a witness is bi -lingual (as in this case) he can make his statement in either language so long as he understood the same.
Permission to appeal was refused.