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Arbitration hearings: Use these four tips when it comes to evidence-in-chief

by , 04 March 2014
It's day two of the Oscar Pistorius trial. If you've been paying close attention to court proceedings at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, you would have heard words like 'evidence-in-chief'. What you may not know is there are some similarities between court proceedings and arbitration hearings. Evidence-in-chief features prominently in arbitration hearings. Continue reading to find out more about evidence-in-chief and the seven tips to use when it comes to this evidence.

Follow these four tips when dealing with evidence-in-chief in arbitration hearings

There are three stages to the evidence of each witness. They are:

  1. Evidence-in-chief
  2. Cross-examination
  3. Re-examination.

For the purposes of this article, we'll deal with evidence-in-chief.

What exactly is evidence-in-chief?

The Legal Dictionary says evidence is said to be in chief when it's given in support of the case opened by the leading counsel.

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service says you'll lead your witness when he gives evidence-in chief. You'll ask him a series of questions he must answer, or ask him to describe certain events or incidents.

Because you ask the questions, you control what issues your witness covers and in what order he deals with them.

But, you can't tell him or suggest to him, by the way you frame your questions, what his answer should be. He must give his own answer and tell his story in his own words.

'Your job in leading the witness is to make sure he tells the Commissioner about all the facts relevant to the case and about which he has knowledge or is qualified to testify,' explains the Loose Leaf Service.

Apply these four tips when dealing with evidence-in-chief in arbitration hearings

#1: Cover all the essential facts with the witness. Don't ask irrelevant questions or get the witness to deal with unnecessary issues.

#2: Make yourself a checklist of all the important issues/facts you need to cover with each witness. Tick them off as soon as you've dealt with them, so you don't leave anything out by mistake.

#3: Start your questions by going through the formalities to establish who the witness is and how he fits into the picture. For example, his name, job description, how long he's been with the company, etc.

Going through these routine questions will also help to settle the witness

#4: Ask clear questions and keep them as short as possible. If you ask a long-winded question, not only do you risk losing the Commissioner's attention, but the witness may become confused about what you're asking and may end up giving evidence you don't require.

Now that you know what evidence-in-chief is and the tips to use, make sure you prepare thoroughly when going to an arbitration hearing.

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