High Court judge speaks out on witness statements from people who do not speak English
Courts and legal practitioners must take a rigorous approach to the preparation and interpretation of statements from witnesses who do not speak English, High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson has declared.
Ruling in a complex fact finding hearing involving a family of Pakistani origin living in England, the judge stressed the need for “clarity about the process by which a statement [from a non-English speaking witness] has been created.”
The case, a residence dispute following the breakdown of the couple’s marriage, involved allegations that the husband had stranded his wife in Pakistan, separating her from their two children for more than five months. The hearing involved no less than seven witness statements delivered via interpreters.
The judge noted that one witness had not read through the English translation of witness statement before signing it and had only noticed inaccuracies in this when the contents were discussed with her. Another Pakistani had been unable to clearly explain how his statement, in English, had been drawn up.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson said:
“Issues of this sort can arise whether or not a party is legally represented. In international cases, the contribution of experienced solicitors of the kind found in this case is invaluable, and I do not intend to be unduly critical of those involved. What occurred is nonetheless procedurally irregular and potentially unfair to the parties and to the witness.”
Read more here: http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2013/09/26/high-court-judge-speaks-out-on-witness-statements-from-people-who-do-not-speak-english/