Case Studies

07 December 2022

Battens has recently achieved special protection for a client and the client’s witnesses in an ongoing civil dispute.

The Order made is one of the first of its kind, being made under a new rule introduced by the Court earlier this year, Practice Direction 1A of the Civil Procedure Rules, so as to allow vulnerable parties and witnesses to give their ‘best evidence’ in Court, which is essential in ensuring that justice is done.

The Problem

The claim is being brought against Battens’ client by the client’s allegedly violent and abusive former partner. His claim is for the return of monies and property following the breakdown of their relationship. Battens’ client says that the claim is being pursued by the former partner wrongfully in order to punish Battens’ client for ending the relationship and leaving.

Battens client’s new residential address had been withheld from the former partner in the proceedings, but the former partner has refused to agree to this including in any written Witness Statement filed by Battens’ client (witnesses are usually required to give their residential address in their statements).

The former partner also refused to agree that Battens’ client’s witnesses’ addresses can be withheld.

His motivation was, seemingly, to try to put pressure on the witnesses not to give evidence and to put pressure on the client to concede the case.

The Solution

Battens made an application to Court under Practice Direction 1A seeking the Court’s permission for the addresses to be withheld from the former partner and his solicitors, provided photo ID and proof of address for the witnesses was filed confidentially at Court ahead of trial.

The Court allowed Battens’ application.

The Difference Battens Made

The Practice Direction sets down a list of factors which may make a party or witness vulnerable and in need of protection. It also includes a list of steps the Court can take to give protection to witnesses and ensure that evidence is given fully and frankly.

As well as robustly making the case to be allowed to withhold the addresses, Battens also crafted a bespoke workaround to allow the witnesses’ addresses to be withheld. The Court considered that the proposed workaround struck an appropriate balance between the requirement for open justice and the protection of the witnesses, and the Court allowed Battens’ client’s application in full – the client’s and the witnesses’ addresses can be withheld.

For assistance with civil disputes contact Peter Livingstone 01935 846235

For assistance in matrimonial disputes and disputes involving children, contact Louise Gidley 01935 846058