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The hearing itself

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  • The hearing itself

    My case, where I am a litigant in person bringing a claim allocated to the multi track, has now been set down for trial on 1st September lasting three days. I am preparing the bundle myself (my choice) which is more or less done already. However, I now have to start to structure the presentation of my case at the hearing, and wonder if there are any guides or information on what to expect.

    I have two witnesses, including myself, and the Defendants have three witnesses. The Defendants are represented by a barrister who specializes in the field of law. There is a lot at stake for the Defence, because if I am successful, about which I have good reason to be hopeful, the case will have significant implications for the Defendants as far as other prospective claimants are concerned. What I would therefore be grateful for advice is :

    1. How long should my opening statement be ? Is it just a summary, or am I allowed to argue the case at this point ?

    2. Does the Defence then make an opening statement ?

    3. Before the witnesses are called, do I have the opportunity to develop my argument in detail ? My fear is that the Judge will not have read the papers thoroughly, and in particular will not be familiar with the Regulations (implementing an EU Directive) which govern the matter, will not be aware of the nuances and will not have read the very limited precedents. I want therefore to be able to build my case in detail, rather than just having to rely on the statement of claim, because that was three years ago and a lot has happened in the intervening period. I want to be able to go through all my exhibits which have a direct bearing on my claim, rather than just relying on the Judge to read the Bundle which I suspect he/she will not, and if they do, they will probably not appreciate the significance.

    4. What happens when I give evidence myself ? I assume I will be cross-examined, but as I am a litigant in person, how do I re-examine myself to respond to the points made by the Defence ? With no-one representing me, how do I respond because normally I would be re-examined by my barrister if I had one, but of course I do not !

    5. After I have cross-examined the Defence witnesses, I believe the Defence will sum up their case after which I will sum up my case. How long will I be allowed to present my summing up, particularly as the examination of witnesses may bring up matters on which it is necessary to comment ?

    The case is most unlikely to have been experienced by the Judge before, as it concerns a specialised area of law with little precedent, although there are some parallels that have gone as far as the Court of Appeal which are associated but not directly comparable. Therefore my worry is that the pleadings themselves need to be argued and expanded verbally, for which I will want as much time as I will be allowed, given a three day trial. Unfortunately, the Regulations have, in the interim, been superceded by revised Regulations which do not bind my case - although the intention of Parliament in respect of my Regulations has been clarified in the new Regulations.

    Any pointers would be invaluable at this stage because preparing my presentation will take me some time, and I want to make sure that I will be allowed to make the full presentation. Any comments would be most appreciated.

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