Alice Letts

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Checklist – 10 tips for cross examination

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As an advocate, whichever side you are representing, you will need to establish and proving your case.  As part of this, you need to highlight the flaws in the opposition’s argument and you do this through cross-examination.  Here are the ten commandments of cross-examination.  It is useful to keep all these points in mind during the hearing, and you may even want to print this list out to keep with you on your desk.

10 Point Checklist for Cross-examination

1.  Be brief;

2. Ask short questions using plain words;

3. Ask only leading questions;

4. Do not ask a question if you do not know the answer;

5. Listen to the answer;

6. Do not quarrel with the witness;

7. Do not allow the witness to repeat her or his evidence in examination-in-chief;

8. Do not permit the witness to explain;

9. Avoid asking one question too many;

10. Save the explanation for closing.

(Source:   Advocacy Class Handouts,  Institute of Professional Legal Studies (Victoria University of Wellington) New Zealand,  2002-2003)

It is not advisable to represent yourself.  Whether you are a claimant or respondent, it makes no difference.  There are generally two reasons why someone will choose to represent themself before a court or tribunal.  From my experience before employment tribunals, I have found that some employers choose to represent themselves when they hold the utmost faith in their actions.   This feeling of security is often based on their own principles or their own feelings of right or wrong.  Often the downfall comes when they have failed to take legal advice and their faith in the strength of their case is unfounded.  The employer who has not educated themselves on the fine points of the law will in all (if not almost all) cases fail.

Where the employee is concerned the number one reason they will choose to represent themself is because they do not have the funds to hire a Barrister or advocate.  To date, in the employment tribunals in England, a Barrister is not required to represent the parties.  In fact the employee (claimant) can ask a friend or relative to represent them.  Alternatively the employee can represent themself before the employment tribunal.

If you have chosen to go down the adversarial route of lititgation, there are three basic principles that you must follow.  You and/or your advocate will need to maintain and establish credibility, have a workable case theory, and at all times be in control.



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