I see a number of witness statements from debt purchasers in the course of proceedings. Most of these statements fail to comply with CPR 32 and PD 32 .
The first issue is CPR 32.8.
Form of witness statement
32.8 A witness statement must comply with the requirements set out in Practice Direction 32.
Accordingly the statement must comply with the practice direction 32.
CPR 32 PD 32 paragraph 18.2 states that
18.2 A witness statement must indicate:
(1) which of the statements in it are made from the witness’s own knowledge and which are matters of information or belief, and
(2) the source for any matters of information or belief.
Now if i had a £1 for every statement which refers to events which are fully outside the Claimants knowledge, for example where the actions took place while the account was with the original creditor, then id be rich and wouldnt need to work. The point is though that the statement does not comply with the CPR if the witness doesnt confirm the source of their information or belief.
The second issue which i often see, relates to exhibits. The requirements in the practice direction are as follows
11.3 The first page of each exhibit should be marked:
(1) as in paragraph 3.2 above, and
(2) with the exhibit mark referred to in the affidavit.
12.1 Copies of individual letters should be collected together and exhibited in a bundle or bundles. They should be arranged in chronological order with the earliest at the top, and firmly secured.
12.2 When a bundle of correspondence is exhibited, the exhibit should have a front page attached stating that the bundle consists of original letters and copies. They should be arranged and secured as above and numbered consecutively.
13.1 Photocopies instead of original documents may be exhibited provided the originals are made available for inspection by the other parties before the hearing and by the judge at the hearing.
13.2 Court documents must not be exhibited (official copies of such documents prove themselves).
13.3 Where an exhibit contains more than one document, a front page should be attached setting out a list of the documents contained in the exhibit; the list should contain the dates of the documents.
Exhibits other than documents
14.1 Items other than documents should be clearly marked with an exhibit number or letter in such a manner that the mark cannot become detached from the exhibit.
14.2 Small items may be placed in a container and the container appropriately marked.
15.1 Where an exhibit contains more than one document:
(1) the bundle should not be stapled but should be securely fastened in a way that does not hinder the reading of the documents, and
(2) the pages should be numbered consecutively at bottom centre.
15.2 Every page of an exhibit should be clearly legible; typed copies of illegible documents should be included, paginated with ‘a’ numbers.
15.3 Where affidavits and exhibits have become numerous, they should be put into separate bundles and the pages numbered consecutively throughout.
15.4 Where on account of their bulk the service of exhibits or copies of exhibits on the other parties would be difficult or impracticable, the directions of the court should be sought as to arrangements for bringing the exhibits to the attention of the other parties and as to their custody pending trial.
Often documents are not exhibited in accordance with the practice direction, often bundles are thrown together, not page numbered, illegible documents included, and most of all, no mention within the statement as to where the document came from or how the creditor obtained it, the procedure used to obtain it etc.
Another issue which is often overlooked by creditors is the requirement under CPR 32 PD 32 para 17
17.1 The witness statement should be headed with the title of the proceedings (see paragraph 4 of Practice Direction 7A and paragraph 7 of Practice Direction 20); where the proceedings are between several parties with the same status it is sufficient to identify the parties as follows:
Number: A.B. (and others) Claimants/Applicants C.D. (and others) Defendants/Respondents (as appropriate)
17.2 At the top right hand corner of the first page there should be clearly written:
(1) the party on whose behalf it is made,
(2) the initials and surname of the witness,
(3) the number of the statement in relation to that witness,
(4) the identifying initials and number of each exhibit referred to, and
(5) the date the statement was made.
The amount of statements which fail to set out the above is alarming. What is more alarming is that most of the debt collectors who sue consumers are represented by solicitors, which begs the question…………