Driving and the Expert Witness – Skilled and Dangerous Tasks

Do you remember when you were learning to drive?  Or teaching stock-illustration-34080700-scared-man-drivingsomeone else to drive?  I remember bunny-hopping around a deserted car park, much to the frustration of my father, who was trying to teach me to change gears by double declutching!  Thankfully I soon learnt that unless I was driving a two-ton truck (which was what my father learnt on) I didn’t need to double declutch.   Once we have learnt to drive and become practiced, we forget about the mechanics of driving, they become automatic. But of course you never stop having to watch out for everyone else on the road and the need to react and respond. Then, just as I thought it was safe to go out on the road, I found myself teaching my son to drive.  This I think was even harder than learning to drive myself, trying to think about all the things we are doing automatically, like observing and thinking.  Explaining this in a patient and cohesive manner is not easy.  But he now has his licence so I can relax again. Giving evidence in court is very similar to driving. When we are training and going to court to give evidence, initially there is just so much to think about.  Obviously there is the subject matter on which our evidence is based, and that is usually enough to keep our minds fully occupied, but on top of that there are the mechanics of giving evidence. What are my obligations?  Which court?  What do I need to take?  Who’s who?  Where do I stand/sit?  Oath or affirmation?  Where do I look?  Who do I give my answers to?  What if I don’t understand a question?  What if I need a break?  What if I need to refer to my notes?  What if I need time to think about a suggestion put to me?  What if I make a mistake?  The list goes on and on. There is just so much to think about and it can become overwhelming. But just like driving, through training and practice much of the mechanics of giving evidence become automatic, even comfortable.  You can react and respond appropriately whilst never losing concentration and being fully aware of what is happening around you. Just as you should not be expected to simply ‘drive’ (in fact the state mandates how much practice you should have and how you should be tested before you are given a licence to drive unaccompanied), you should not be expected to just go to court and give evidence.  Giving evidence, especially expert evidence, is a skilled task.  It is no more straightforward than getting in a car and driving, and is equally as dangerous. I am passionate about providing witnesses with the knowledge and skills to become effective witnesses. Please feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss your training needs or those of members of your organisation.


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