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No funny voices

At no point during a tribunal hearing should you adopt a funny voice or do an impression of a witness. Not in cross-examination and not in submissions either. And definitely not while giving evidence. Some will think this advice superfluous – but we have both encountered representatives who have done these things.

This is an extreme example of a more general point. If you haven’t been in a tribunal before, your closest experience may simply be an argument or a quarrel. It’s a valid comparison – a tribunal hearing is basically a kind of formal quarrel, with the judge acting as referee.

But the formality and the referee are key differences. Many of the tactics that people use in an ordinary quarrel won’t work – and will most likely backfire – if tried in the tribunal. That includes mocking your opponent; shouting them down; pretending not to understand their point; emotional blackmail; baffling them with jargon; and storming off in a huff.

Why won’t these tactics work? Because tribunals are supposed to decide cases on the evidence and the law – not on which party can shout louder, or weep more convincingly, or mock the other more effectively. At best such tactics waste time and create noise that distracts from the points you should be making.

At worst you will annoy the tribunal by making an obvious bid to play on their feelings. And the tribunal, no matter how objective they try to be, are human and affected by their emotions, like everyone else. So the result will be, if anything, to make it less likely that you win.

One comment

  1. Bill Ryan

    I heartily agree. Playing a straight bat always works better in my view. Taking it one stage further – no trick questions either (not that this one is relevant in ET terms )like “Have you stopped beating your wife. Please answer with a yes or no”.

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