PLEASE ONLY ANSWER MY QUESTION IF YOU ARE UK BASED AND CAN PROVIDE AN ANSWER THIS EVENING (16TH MARCH) I was involved in a traffic accident on a roundabout over 2.5yrs ago. I was travelling in the left lane and the car in the right lane attempted to change lanes to take an exit without checking it was clear to do so and hit me. The other party was driving a van and the people in the van consisted of his daughter and employees. His claim is that I was in the wrong lane, my claim is that he failed to check the lane was clear and did not indicate before changing lanes. My car was also slightly ahead of his at the point of impact. My car was written off. I did not see any damage to his van but he has made a claim of nearly £1000 but has not supplied any photographs as evidence with his statement. My insurance company supported my claim and it went on between the insurance companies for over a year where nothing was settled and nothing was agreed. Then out of the blue, the other party threatened that if I did not accept 100% liability, he would proceed to court. I did not accept this and it is now proceeding to county court with my hearing this week. As I have had some serious medical problems over the last 18 months I did not want the stress of court and my solicitor (appointed on behalf of my insurance company) said that if I didn’t want the stress of going to court we could offer 50/50 to settle. They rejected this offer so I decided to go ahead with defending myself and will go to court. I also do not want the fact that I offered 50/50 as a sign of my admission of fault, I only did this is I did not need the stress when I am personally having a lot of stress with my medical condition. My solicitor said at the time that it wouldn’t be viewed as an admission of fault but I am concerned it will be by the judge. The solicitor appointed by my insurance company has been very vague in answers and slow in response so I have a few questions as I have never been involved in an accident before or attended court in my life. My main focus however are for my questions 9. and 10. 1. The Claimant has a Ltd company and the case is in the name of his ltd company and my insurance company (not my personal name). Does this mean he has proceeded with taking the case to county court personally and not through his insurance company? If so, does this mean his insurance company did not support his claim? I don’t understand why the name of the case is in his personal/ltd company name and not the name of the insurance company. 2. The Claimant has 3 witness statements, his daughter who is also his employee and 2 other employees, all saying the same thing. Can my barrister argue that the witness statements are not independent and cannot be relied upon based on the relationship with the Claimant? I don’t understand how they can be used as they are obviously in cahoots with the Claimant and saying everything he wants them to say based on their relationship. 3. I have only received a copy of the Claimant’s statement and witness statements yesterday and throughout they use the phrases that I ‘cut across’, ‘cut up’, ‘cut in front of’ their vehicle which they state was the cause of the accident. I was in my lane and secure in my lane at point of impact. I did not change lanes or make any changes in my direction. Also, my intended exit did not mean I would change lanes. Can my barrister argue that the Claimant is misleading or even wrong to use these phrases as this seems to imply I changed direction from one lane to another? How can staying in my lane be the cause of the accident? 4. Will this be held in a court room or more likely in the Judge’s chambers? 5. Do I address the Judge ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Sir/Madam’? 6. Having gone through the Claimant’s statement, I have made quite a few points to give to my appointed barrister who I am due to meet 30 mins before the trial begins. Will the barrister actually read any of this or be able to use it to cross examine the Claimant and witnesses? 7. In the notes I will give my barrister, I have also referred to sections in the highway code to argue against the Claimant’s claim that I should have signalled (I was not exiting so did not need to signal) and also to show that he should have checked his mirrors and glanced to check the lane was clear. Can and will the barrister use this in support of my defence and will it make a difference? 8. My solicitor said that I just need to be familiar with my statement. Is there anything else I need to do to prepare? 9. I am nervous and anxious about cross examination, just because I have never been to court. What examples of questions will the Claimant’s barrister ask me on cross-examination? 10. Any other advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
Thanks Alex. A few things to clarify please:
Question 3: No. Using plain English is not a reason to undermine a persons account. But you can still attack their version of events on the basis that its wrong.
When you state 'But you can still attack their version of events on the basis that its wrong' do you mean with relation to the phrases 'cut up/cut across' being wrong in context of the events whereby I stayed in my lane and he changed lanes? Or not relating to the phrases?
5. Do I address the Judge ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Sir/Madam’? - Yes.
Which is correct please?
6. -Yes. If you need more time then ask for the barrister to arrive one hour before the hearing. Most barristers will be hwppy to oblige.
Can I contact the Barrister directly if I can find her number?
9. -The questions will be closed - usually to make you give a yes or no answer. You will be tempted to expand on your answer but you should keep it short and simple. The purpose of cross examination is to undermine your account and for the other party to present their case. I suggest you keep calm, focus on the question and answer it. Trying to avoid a difficult question will appear evasive and inconsistent.
Can you give an example of some questions please?
If a question feels misleading, can I ask for more clarity or for it to be rephrased (without appearing obstructive) eg if the claimant’s barrister asks ‘did you change lanes’ the answer is yes but that was before the incident occurred and at the time of the incident I was secure in my lane. Should I state that as my reply or ask the barrister ‘at what point are you referring to’?
In addition, when I am on the stand, will I have to state what happened or will the Judge use my statement as evidence so I do not need to give the entire account?
If I am asked to explain what happened, do I paraphrase what is in my statement or give a more detailed account?
How long will the case last? Are third parties allowed into the room (my partner)?
If I want my barrister to say something on my behalf, do I write a note and pass to her? And is this only relevant during cross examination of the other party?
Would the barrister have had much time to prepare for my case or do they only get the case in the morning of the day of the trial? My trial is at 2pm.
To clarify your statement:
But the Judge will have read your statement. You will not be expectdd to repeat what's said in that document - you will just be cross examined on the contents.
Am I right in assuming from your answer that when I get called up, I won’t need to give an account of what happened? I will just be cross examined when I am called up?
Please could you also kindly confirm about the other questions I asked in my previous reply: