Introduction to this document

Letter to arrange witness statement for employment tribunal

Where a current or former employee has agreed to give evidence on your behalf in your defence of an employment tribunal claim, you should get their witness statement prepared at an early stage.

Tribunal process

Before a witness can give evidence on your behalf in your defence of an employment tribunal claim, they’ll need to have signed a witness statement and that statement must be exchanged with the other party in advance of the hearing. Their written witness statement is then taken as their evidence-in-chief and, as a general rule, they won’t need to read it out to the tribunal. Rather, the witness will go straight into being questioned by you, or your representative, on their evidence and then they’ll be cross-examined by the other party.

Arranging a witness statement

Our Letter to Arrange Witness Statement for Employment Tribunal is drafted on the assumption that you intend to call the witness to give evidence at the hearing, and they’ve already agreed to this. It’s advisable to get their witness statement prepared at an early stage after receiving the tribunal claim as this will ensure that: (1) their recollection of events is committed to paper while matters are still fresh in their mind and before their memory of those events starts to fade; and (2) they have sufficient opportunity to think about the events to be covered in their statement so that their evidence can be presented in a clear and chronological order and they can consider any documents to be referred to in their statement. Our letter arranges a meeting with the witness to prepare their statement - this could be held in person or remotely. It may also help to send a bundle of key documents to them with our letter, or to set out a list of questions for them to think about before the meeting, so that they come to the meeting fully prepared for giving their statement. Although the letter assumes you’ll be drafting the witness statement after interviewing the witness at the meeting, do bear in mind that the text of the statement should be their own words (i.e. as they would speak) and should reflect their own recollection of events. So, ensure you’ve taken a detailed attendance note of your meeting and don’t be tempted to try and alter what they’ve said to suit what you’d prefer them to say. Also, ensure the witness statement sticks to the facts as they recall them, rather than drifting into conjecture or personal opinion - see our Witness Statement Checklist for advice on drafting witness statements. As the witness needs to be comfortable with everything that’s in their statement before they sign it, it’s likely you’ll end up producing a couple of drafts for their review and comments before a final version is sent for their signature. Give them a copy of their signed and dated statement for their own records.