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Cross examination

The object of cross-examination is two-fold

  • To challenge evidence put forward by a witness to reduce its weight in the eyes of the inspector
  • To bring out helpful evidence from the witness for your own case

If you are being cross-examined

Do not make the mistake of saving up good points to be introduced during cross-examination, as the opportunity may not happen.

Many lawyers at public inquiries are reluctant to cross-examine third parties.

If you are being cross-examined by an aggressive lawyer, stay calm and polite.You should never argue, ask questions, get angry or veer from relevant planning issues. Your evidence is there in writing in your proof of evidence, so refer the lawyer to the answer it if is in the proof.

If, having been cross-examined, you feel there was something in the cross-examination you did not make clear, ask the inspector for an opportunity to do so.

If you are cross-examining others

Questions can be asked that arise out of the witness's whole proof of evidence, not just the summary.

Leadings questions, which indicate the answer you want,play an important part in cross-examination.

Do not try to cross-examine another party's witness without preparing first.

Make sure that you prepare the questions you wish to ask based on their proofs of evidence and sort out the order in which you propose to ask them.

It helps to ensure that your questions are well tied down to answers which the witness has already given or to statements in the proof of evidence.

Make sure that you do not ask the same questions which have already been asked

  • Listen carefully to the cross-examination which has already taken place and make notes of important answers.
  • It may give you further materials for your cross-examination.
  • Cross-examination can be difficult when a witness stonewalls all your questions.
  • Explain to the inspector that the question has not been answered and try again.
  • Perhaps try putting it a different way.
  • Be polite but firm
  • If you are having no success, ask the inspector for help. You cannot always get the answer you want, but you should get an answer.
  • Pay attention to the questions asked by the inspector of all witnesses
    • This is one of the few pointers you will get about the issues on which the inspector is focusing