The hearing

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At the trial, the person who is making the claim starts by telling the judge or tribunal what the case is all about. The claimant then calls his witnesses, who ‘give’ their evidence by confirming their witness statements in the witness-box, and are then cross-examined by the other side on points of disagreement. When the claimant has finished presenting his case, it is the turn of the person resisting the claim to present his evidence. At the end of the case each party makes a final speech to the court or tribunal in relation to the evidence and the case generally and any relevant law.

Cross-examining an opponent’s witnesses is inherently difficult. It is doubly hard for a litigant without a lawyer, who may find it difficult to frame questions (rather than making statements) and to do so while trying to put to one side his understandable emotions of anxiety, frustration, and often frank dislike of the other side of the dispute. Inept cross-examination may do and often does do more harm than good. It is also very important for each party to control his presentation of the case, including cross-examination, not just for the obvious reasons but also because presentation that is seen to take much longer than it really needs to may result in an adverse order for costs.