Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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2. If I am a party to the case and have called witnesses to give evidence for me, should I meet with my witnesses before attending the trial?

If you do not have a lawyer to represent you, you must meet with your witnesses and have a discussion with them before attending the trial. The purpose of that meeting is to assess their credibility, see what they know about your case and what they will probably say at the trial.

However, you must NOT make up the answers for them.

Bad inference would be drawn by the court if your witnesses are just reading out your "scripts" during the trial. If it is proved that a witness has wilfully given false evidence, that person would be liable to a fine and imprisonment.

You may briefly tell your witnesses what you are going to ask during the trial, and tell them about the possibility of being questioned by your opponent and the judge. This could help reduce your witnesses' anxiety and encourage them to make preparations before entering the courtroom.

You should also remind your witnesses not to turn to you for looks of approval when answering questions from your opponent or the judge.

The attendance of your witnesses must be secured well in advance (preferably three weeks prior to the trial date). If you are not sure whether they will attend the trial, you may try to secure their attendance by issuing a writ of subpoena (i.e. a witness summons compelling the target witness to attend the trial, see Form No 28 or 29 in Appendix A of the Rules of the High Court (Cap. 4A) or Form No 28 or 29 in Appendix A of the Rules of the District Court (Cap. 336H) as appropriate).

The appropriate office for issuing such a writ is the Registry of the relevant court. Every writ of subpoena should be accompanied by a deposit that will be used to cover the witness's reasonable expenses.