A witness who tried to give evidence by video link while driving a van “illustrates the problems that can arise when things go wrong,” a judge has reported in a design infringement case.
According to the Recorder, Douglas Campbell QC, witness Dalwinder Singh “appeared to be driving a van while dividing his attention between the road in front of him and the camera of a mobile device placed on the passenger seat.”
The judge stopped the hearing and told the defendant to re-establish contact with the witness when he had stopped driving. Mr Singh later appeared on a video link from a busy office with distracting noises in the background. He was asked to find a quieter place – but when he reappeared on video in a storeroom, he had forgotten to bring his witness statement.
Counsel for the defendant then opted to reply on Mr Singh’s statement only, however in the circumstances the Recorder gave Mr Singh’s statement ‘no weight’.
In his judgement the Recorder wrote: “I mention this not in order to determine who, if anyone, was at fault in relation to the way in which this happened. It may have been a combination of things. I do so because giving evidence by video link may be with us for some time to come, and this story illustrates the problems that can arise when things go wrong.”
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions said: “I think it is concerning that professionals involved in negligence claims could experience circumstances like this. However, it emphasises the point that all witnesses in court cases should make sure they are well prepared, have re-read their witness statements and fully understand the evidence they are about to give, if it is to carry weight in the case.”
Problems with witness evidence have already led to changes to witness statement requirements last year, which were reported by Brunel Professions in a previous article which can be found here.