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  • Is the coaching of evidence permitted?
  • This includes reading and discussing the witness statements of other witnesses.
  • In Australia, No.
    • It has long been regarded as proper practice for legal practitioners to take proofs of evidence from lay witnesses separately and to encourage such witnesses not to discuss their evidence with others and particularly not with other potential witnesses.
    • For various reasons, witnesses do not always abide by those instructions and their credibility suffers accordingly.
    • In the present case, it is hard to see that the intention of the teleconference with witnesses discussing amongst themselves the evidence that they would give was for any reason other than to ensure, so far as possible, that in giving evidence the defendant’s witnesses would all speak with one voice about the events that occurred.
    • Thus, the evidence of one about a particular matter which was in fact true might be overborne by what that witness heard several others say which, as it happened, was not true.
    • This seriously undermines the process by which evidence is taken.
    • What was done was improper.
    • The process adopted was more concerned with ensuring that all the witnesses gave evidence which would best serve their employer’s case.
    • This realisation makes particularly sinister the precept in the Witness Protocols for Court Cases and Arbitration Hearings, “Not about facts about credibility”

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