If you are required to give evidence at Royal Commission or other government inquiry it is vital that you are legally represented. In a typical civil court proceeding a cross examiner’s questioning of a witness must be relevant to the issues framed by the pleadings. So, witnesses in a civil trial should have a reasonably good idea where the attacks may come from. Similarly, in a criminal proceeding, the charges define the nature of the evidence and cross examination can usually be anticipated. Parties and their legal teams can prepare accordingly.
Witnesses in Royal Commissions or inquiries face a much more difficult task however. They can be grilled on any issue that may fall within the very broad terms of reference, and by any party with leave to appear . The procedure for examination and re-examination is not also not fixed and subject to the discretion of the Royal Commission.
Witnesses may therefore face a tough time in the box, and may be taken by surprise with a real risk of being the subject of public ridicule or criticism. It is not uncommon for a witness to leave the witness box at a Royal Commission or Inquiry with their professional reputation in ruin. This occurred in the Cole Royal Commission and also led to the demise of AWB – a previously absurd prospect which became a reality.
So, what can be done to avoid this? Preparation is power. Engage the services of Andrew. He will assist you to prepare any necessary witness statement, explain to you the privilege against self-incrimination and legal professional privilege, and appear with you to protect you when you give evidence.