Don’t ask pointless questions

That’s not as sarcastic as it sounds. Hearings are stressful and pretty weird, and cross-examining is probably the weirdest and most stressful part of conducting a hearing. Stress and unfamiliarity do make people lose touch a bit with their common sense.

That’s why these two pieces of advice are necessary:

1. Don’t take a witness to a particular line of her witness statement and say ‘You say such-and-such in your statement, don’t you?’ There’s no point: there it is in her statement. She’s just said it. You don’t need to get her to say it again, or agree that she’s said it.

2. Don’t take a witness to a document in the bundle and ask them if they agree that it says what it says. Again: they’re bound to. You can sensibly ask if they agree with you about what the significance of the document is, or face them with inconsistencies with their statement and the document, but there’s no point asking them to agree that what’s written on the document is what’s written on the document. The tribunal can see that for itself.

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