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Preparing Witnesses for Cross-Examination: Expert Advice

preparing a witness for cross examination


  • Australia is now catching up with other jurisdictions in the preparations of witnesses giving evidence under cross-examination.
  • The purpose of the relatively unknown concept, witness familiarisation is to assist a witness by providing them with understanding and training to be able to effectively provide their evidence in cross-examination.
  • The independent organisation undertakes the training to both ordinary witnesses and expert witnesses.

What is the purpose of witness preparation?

The primary purpose of witness preparation is to assist the court in obtaining the relevant evidence while simultaneously improving the witness’s understanding of the court process and perceptions and effectively deliver the evidence to the court.

What does witness preparation do?

Witness preparation provides the witness with an understanding of what to expect when giving their evidence, cross-examination and tactics and strategies that are used and how to effectively respond to these tactics. This process uses a lot of practical methods through mock cross-examination sessions to give the witness the opportunity to practice for trial.

Who conducts the witness preparation?

Generally, an independent organization will conduct the witness preparation. Legal representatives are removed from the preparation due to ethical concerns and the potential risk that legal representatives may coach the client rather than the client responding to questions during trial on their own behalf.

Additionally, having an independent organization conduct the preparation removes the detailed facts and issues of the proceedings and focuses on improving the witness’s skills in effectively delivering evidence.

Who can utilize witness preparation?

Witness preparation is available to lay and expert witnesses for preparation in different hearings such as courts, tribunals, arbitration, regulatory investigation and royal commissions.

This preparation may be requested by the firm on behalf of the client or directly by the witness themselves.

Why is it beneficial?

  • Saves time in the lead up to the trial.
  • Provides a degree of preparation to the client that solicitors are unable to provide due to ethical concerns surrounding coaching.

If you or someone you know is nervous about being called to give evidence in a Court, contact Coutts to find out how you can prepare yourself for cross-examination.


Luisa Gaetani

Luisa is a Senior Associate at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancer and head of our Family and Criminal Law divisions. Luisa has practiced solely in the areas of criminal and family law. It is her sensitive yet pragmatic approach that has allowed her to develop a strong rapport and build trusting relationships with her clients. Should a client’s matter proceed to court, Luisa has the skillset and experience to assist her clients through this process and where required, will draw upon her network of barristers to further benefit her client’s outcomes.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Luisa Gaetani
Senior Associate
1300 268 887

Contact Criminal Lawyers Campbelltown today.

This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

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