Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Under the rules of court in England and Wales, certain documents must include a statement of truth to verify an honest belief in the accuracy of the content.

A statement of truth confirms that the party believes the facts stated in the document are true and accurate.

Failure to provide a statement of truth can lead to statements of case being struck out or evidence being disregarded.

The standard wording of a statement of truth is similar to the following examples:

  • "[The Claimant/Defendant] believes the facts stated in this [document] are true"; or
  • "I believe the facts stated in this witness statement are true". 

The statement of truth on certain documents, including statements of case (claim forms, particulars of claim, defences, replies and further information) and witness statements, must also include specific wording making clear that the relevant person understands the importance of the statement, for example: "I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth".

Witness statements in the Business and Property Courts must also include an additional confirmation, in a prescribed form of wording, that the witness understands the purpose of witness statements and their proper preparation.

Statements of truth must be in a witness' own language (so, for example, a non-English speaking witness who therefore makes a witness statement in their own language must also make their statement of truth in that language), and must be dated with the date on which they are signed.

Who must sign?

Where a document is to be verified by a company, the statement of truth must be signed by a senior corporate officer who is sufficiently acquainted with the matters set out in the document to positively advance an honest belief. 

The signatory should also be authorised by the organisation to sign the document on its behalf.

Examples of senior positions are: director, treasurer, secretary, chief executive, manager or in-house counsel. 

A witness statement should be signed by the person making the statement.

False statements of truth

Proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth. This may result in a criminal prosecution with a custodial sentence, so it is important that parties and their lawyers think very carefully before advancing cases or evidence.