The government has now published a consultation inviting everyone to share their views about how to best to support vulnerable witnesses giving evidence in court. 

The consultation refers to Draft Practice Direction 3AA, Vulnerable persons: participation in proceedings and giving evidence, which is intended to support a new Part 3A of the Family Procedure Rules.

The new Part 3A of the Family Procedure Rules place a duty on the court to consider:

a) whether a party’s participation in proceedings is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability and, if so, whether it is necessary to give “participation directions” for assistance; and

b) whether the quality of evidence given by a party or witness is likely to be diminished by reason of vulnerability and, if so, whether it is necessary to give participation directions. (This provision on giving evidence extends to children.)

The questions asked in the consultation are:

When read with draft Part 3A of the Family Procedure Rules:

1. Do you agree that draft PD3AA gives sufficient guidance on the duties of the court, parties and their representatives in relation to vulnerable witnesses? If you do not agree, please give reasons and explain what further guidance you think is needed.

2. Do you agree that draft PD3AA (particularly when combined with draft rule 3A.7) gives sufficient guidance on the term ‘vulnerability’, specifically in terms of how to identify if a party or witness is a vulnerable person? If you do not agree, please give reasons and explain what further guidance you think is needed.

3. Do you agree that draft PD3AA gives sufficient guidance on how the court should assist a vulnerable person to participate and give evidence effectively? If you do not agree, please give reasons and explain what further guidance you think is needed.

4. Do you agree that draft PD3AA is clear about the responsibilities of the parties and any legal representatives including when applying for directions and preparing for or conducting cross-examination? If you do not agree, please give reasons and explain what further guidance you think is needed.

5. Do you have any other comments on draft PD3AA?

All comments should be sent to:

Joanna Furlong, Family Justice Policy, Justice and Courts Policy Group, 3.40, Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ

or email:

 FPRCSecretariat@justice.gsi.gov.uk

The closing date for submissions is 5pm on Friday 17th March, 2017

consultation-vw

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