What happens when I give my evidence?
Before you give your evidence the hearings coordinator will ask you how you want to take an oath or affirmation to tell the truth.
You can take an oath on a holy book of your choosing, or make a non-religious affirmation.
The following oaths are available:
- Christian (on the new testament)
- Hindu (on the Gita)
- Jewish (on the Jewish bible)
- Muslim (on the Quran)
- Sikh (on the Gutka)
If you don’t want to take a religious oath you can read out an ‘affirmation’ to confirm that the evidence you’re about to give will be the truth.
Cross-examination is the legal term used that describes the process of asking questions to witnesses. It can be challenging, but remember it’s a necessary process to make sure our hearings are fair.
Who will ask me questions?
The first person to ask you questions will be our the case presenter. They’ll ask you questions about what happened and you should answer honestly.
All the questions you’ll be asked will be based on your witness statement or the exhibits that were included with your statement.
The nurse, midwife or nursing associate or their representative will then ask you questions based on your witness statement, too.
Why are people asking me questions?
The purpose of cross-examination questions is to make sure your account is accurate and to test your evidence.
The final set of questions will be put by the panel. These are designed to clarify and better understand the evidence that’s already been given.
Whether you’re attending a face to face hearing or a virtual hearing, we expect everyone involved to treat each other kindly, with dignity and respect.
The panel will intervene if the line of questioning or tone is inappropriate.
How long will it take to give my evidence?
The time it takes for a witness to give evidence is different from case to case. The case presenter will give you as much information as possible about what to expect on the day.
Will I definitely finish my evidence on the day?
We try to make sure that you finish giving your evidence on the day you’re called for, but this is not always possible.
If the hearing is due to continue on the next day, you might be asked to come back.
If you haven’t finished giving your evidence by the final hearing date, we’ll usually ask that you attend again on new dates booked for the hearing to continue. We’ll make sure that you can make the new dates before these are confirmed.
Preparing for cross-examination
We understand that giving evidence can be stressful. Below are some points to consider when you’re getting ready for cross-examination.
- Read and become familiar with your witness statement before you give evidence.
- If you’re asked about a specific document or part of your statement, you’ll be able to take some time to look at it.
- If you don’t understand the question or need it repeated, make sure you say so. It’s okay if you don’t understand!
- Remember you can take your time to give clear, considered answers.
- Try not to talk about issues that don’t relate to the question you’ve been asked.
- Try not to get angry or argue if the other party or their representative challenges your evidence. It’s their job, and they’re not trying to upset you.
- If you don’t know the answer or don’t remember something, say so. It’s okay if you don’t know and it’s better not to guess or speculate.
- There might be observers in the room and they may leave or enter when you’re giving evidence. Try to ignore this and direct your answers to the panel.
- During the hearing the panel will need to maintain people’s anonymity. You might prefer to be referred to by name, or you might want to refer to a patient or witness by name or their relationship to you (for example, saying “my sister”).
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed at any point you can ask the chair for a short break.