Talking While Under Oath
Friday 20th April 2018
A Warning for Witnesses!
In the recent case of Chidzoy v BBC, the Claimant discussed his evidence during a break in the Tribunal hearing and the entire case was struck out.
Gordons had recent experience of this in the Employment Tribunal when acting for a respondent. Very briefly, we were at a preliminary hearing to argue the point that the claim had been brought out of time and that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear the claim. The Claimant was in the process of giving his evidence in chief when the Judge called a short break. The Judge specifically said to the Claimant that he should not discuss his evidence with his solicitor during the break and reminded the Claimant that he was still under oath. When we stepped out of the Tribunal into the reception, we witnessed the Claimant and his solicitor having a conversation which continued when they went into the Claimant’s waiting room. This was reported to the Judge. In the end, it wasn’t necessary to raise this issue again and we were successful in getting the claim struck out, because it was out of time.
The BBC case serves as a harsh reminder to anyone who may be asked to give evidence in Tribunal, including witnesses for employers, that they must be extremely careful about who they talk to during breaks in proceedings while they are in the process of giving evidence. Even a short conversation (which mentions something dealt with in the evidence) can have serious consequences.