Eureka moment for taking witness statements

A handy new way for taking witness statements…

Like most good ideas, it happened when we were least expecting it: those awkward first few minutes of a video calls while you wrangle headphones and talk about how busy you are.  One of the lawyers who worked in Addleshaw Goddard’s litigation department mentioned that a client had issued an urgent proceedings in the Business and Property Courts, and that taking witness statements now required lawyers to comply with the new Practice Direction 57AC.

From April 2021, when writing a witness statements for use for use at trial in the business and property courts it must “must set out only matters of fact of which the witness had personal knowledge and are relevant of the case”.

The witness must sign a statement of truth their statement is only an account of events they have witnessed or matters they have personal knowledge, and is in their own words.

Except now, the lawyer must also sign a certificate of compliance, certifying that the witness statement complies with the practice direction, including the requirement that is in their own words.

I immediately got the sense that the process of waiting for a note to be prepared of the client conference and making sure the witness statement was consistent was a slow and potentially stressful process, though the lawyer probably thought I was being insensitive when I started grinning inanely at him while he shared his pain!

When researching for new product ideas, it’s these moments that you live for.  An off-the-cuff comment that “if only I could do this”, or “there must be a better way than that”.

The hardest part of working in a legal-tech start-up is having regular contact with lawyers to find their pain-points and demonstrate how you solve them.   I’ve learnt that it is having the regular contact that matters, and that is what we were lucky enough to have during the AG Elevate programme.

AG Elevate is a a fast-track 10-month programme for selected high growth technology businesses, and Just:Transcription had been fortunate enough to be one of 11 businesses chosen for a place in the 2021 cohort.

Being part of Elevate helped me tackle legal and other challenges a scale-up business such as mine faces, and gave me access to legal advice, legal and business mentors and networks to help me grow my business – as well as simply get great face-time with lawyers.

Once we had validated that this litigator was not the only one feeling the pain, we started prototyping.  Using our secure AI-enabled transcription platform, we were able to quickly turn an audio recording of a client conference to an accurate transcript.

Using our custom editing platform, the lawyer is able to quickly review the completed transcript, while listening back to the audio of the conference to make sure that the final statement is in the witnesses own words.

We modelled different formatting options, choosing an option where the questions posed by the lawyer during the conference became sub-headings and the answers given by the client were split into numbered paragraphs.

When the final version is downloaded, it includes the certificate of compliance ready for the witness and solicitor’s signatures.

If this exasperation is familiar to you and you want to find out more, drop me a line to arrange a demo or find out more about our transcriptions services for the legal sector.

You can find out more about Addleshaw Goddard’s AG Elevate programme, including how to apply for a place on this year’s programme here.

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