You may be able to get some free advice about writing your statement, or get a solicitor to review your statement, at a community legal centre or legal aid office. You need to allow plenty of time to do this as it may take a couple of weeks to get an appointment. For more information, see
Need more help?
There is no set length for a statement. The assessor or magistrate does not know anything about your claim apart from what is in the Statement of Claim and Defence, so you need to include enough information to explain clearly the circumstances of the debt or the car accident. You also need to be careful to include all the relevant facts, places and names in your story about the debt or car accident.
For more information, see
Instructions for preparing witness statements.
If the claim against you is about a car accident and you need to prepare a witness statement, see
Instructions for preparing your statement (Defendant) - Car accidents.
If you know at the time of the Pre Trial Review that your witness does not want to write a statement, you could try to deal with it then. You can explain to the registrar that one of your witnesses does not want to write a statement. You could ask the registrar to order that the witness must attend the hearing to give evidence in person, and get permission for a subpoena to be issued directing the witness to come and give evidence.
However, it is rare for witnesses to give evidence in person at Small Claims Division hearings, and you would have to persuade the registrar that the evidence was very important for your case.
For more information, see
Subpoenas - Step by step guide.
It is very important that the other party has the opportunity to read all your statements and evidence in plenty of time to prepare for the hearing. If you send your witness statements and evidence to the other party close to the hearing date, there is a risk that the court will not allow you to use those witness statements and evidence at the hearing.
If you have sent your statements very late or not sent them at all, at the start of the hearing you could ask the court to adjourn (postpone) the hearing to another date. If the assessor or magistrate agrees to do this, they are likely to order you to pay legal costs to the other party.
If the hearing goes ahead, the assessor or magistrate may either accept your statements if the other party agrees or decide your case without considering your statements.
The evidence of the witness shouldn't change depending on whose behalf they are giving evidence. If you think that the evidence the witness has provided on behalf of the other party is wrong, you should make a note of the things that you don't agree with and tell the court when you go to the hearing.
When you write down the things you don't agree with you should make sure that you also record where the information is in the witness statement. For example, 'In paragraph 2 the witness says that the conversation happened on 2 January 2010 but the conversation happened on 4 January 2010'.
If you cannot attend the hearing, you can contact the other party and ask if they will agree to change the hearing date and what dates they are available. If they agree, you can send a letter or fax to the court explaining:
The court will consider your letter and let you know the new hearing date if they agree to change it.
If the other party will not agree to change the hearing date, you can still write to the court and ask to change the hearing date. It is important to attach supporting information to your letter, such as a letter from your doctor or employer to explain why you cannot attend the hearing. The assessor or magistrate will only consider your letter on the day of the hearing. There is a risk that the hearing will go ahead without you.
It is important that you write to the court about changing the hearing date as far ahead of the hearing as possible.