Taking defence statements in High Court cases

Under the Crown Practice Statement on disclosure of statements and productions, the Crown must give the defence

  • within 14 days of the first appearance, a provisional list of witnesses.
  • within 28 days of the first appearance, copies of witness statements.
  • as soon as practicable, copies of documentary evidence and lists of productions including forensic science reports.
  • no later than seven days after service of the indictment, a courtesy copy of the indictment and a note giving details of where and when the defence may collect or examine any previously undisclosed copy productions.

Procedure: taking defence statements

If you are aware of the identity of Crown witnesses material to the defence and you can show urgency, you may take statements from those witnesses before receiving the copy Crown statements. We would normally expect you to wait until the 28 days pass.

Once you have seen the copy Crown statements or if, after 28 days, the Crown has not produced copy statements, you can take statements (subject to the guidance set out in this pamphlet).

These arrangements also apply where the Crown informs you that the provision of copy statements will be delayed for a specific period beyond the 28 days.

Prior approval

You do not need our prior approval to take statements from a Crown witness considered to be material to the defence, unless this could involve unusual work or unusually large expenditure.

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