City Research Online

The Well-educated Witness: Witness Familiarisation Training in England & Wales

Soanes, M. (2014). The Well-educated Witness: Witness Familiarisation Training in England & Wales. The Law Teacher, 48(2), pp. 196-208. doi: 10.1080/03069400.2014.914733


The presentation at the 4th Applied Legal Storytelling Conference promoted respect for witnesses’ ownership of their narratives and explained how effective witness training can successfully avoid unethical coaching whilst remaining client-centred. Witnesses’ roles within the Common Law adversarial trial tradition were analysed, and the English and Welsh Court of Appeal’s guidance to lawyers on acceptable and unacceptable forms of trial preparation for witnesses was outlined and critiqued in its historical context and compared with other common law jurisdictions’ practices. It was argued that witnesses can be educated ethically to enhance their effectiveness in the witness box whilst respecting them as pristine evidence sources. This article develops these themes to argue that in England and Wales witness familiarisation trainers are educators rather than partisan trial strategists. Case law and research literature in the field of witness familiarisation and ethics are relied upon to support this argument. In addition, the author draws on several years’ experience of the courtroom and witness familiarisation training with witnesses of fact, expert witnesses, and criminal investigators.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in The Law Teacher on 22 May 2014, available online:
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Departments: The City Law School
SWORD Depositor:
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