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To say I can't attend court as a witness

38 replies

42isthemeaning · 18/06/2017 22:13

If we've pre-booked and paid for a family holiday? It's going to coincide with the trial.

OP posts:

Hissy · 18/06/2017 22:14

That's what holiday insurance covers I believe...

Someone is possibly relying on you.


ineedamoreadultieradult · 18/06/2017 22:15

I think they can arrest you to make you go but that might just be on TV


42isthemeaning · 18/06/2017 22:16

They can arrest me if I don't reply to the citation.

OP posts:

FruitCider · 18/06/2017 22:16

They definitely can detain you in custody to make you attend if they feel you are key and are likely to leave the country to get out of attending...


PacificDogwod · 18/06/2017 22:16

I don't think that a holiday while count as a valid excuse.
You need to contact the Court - just not turning up is NOT an option.


Ethelswith · 18/06/2017 22:17

Yes, we had to cancel a holiday once on these grounds, but it was fully covered by insurance and the claim went through easily


WhooooAmI24601 · 18/06/2017 22:17

You need to tell them you've a holiday planned and ask if it's absolutely essential you attend. If they say yes, you'd BU in the extreme to then not turn up.


BewtySkoolDropowt · 18/06/2017 22:18

It depends on what the case is and how important your testimony is for the case.

Hissy, is not just about the financial aspects (I. E. Getting money back) , its about everyone being able to get time off at the same time and finding a holiday in the right place at the right price point, and the amount of time it takes to get it all organised.


tellmewhen · 18/06/2017 22:19

When I was an essential witness I was asked for pre-booked holiday dates before they set the date of the trial.


42isthemeaning · 18/06/2017 22:20

I certainly wouldn't "just not turn up", Pacific.
I just wonder if the court will accept that I can't attend on certain dates. It's something which is likely to go on for several weeks.

OP posts:

WomanWithAltitude · 18/06/2017 22:22

If you have proof of booking, they can and do change trial dates to accommodate witnesses. Give them a call and explain the position, explaining that you are happy to testify but can't make the proposed dates.


PacificDogwod · 18/06/2017 22:23

It will depend on how vital a witness you are.
Have you given a precognition?
A formal statement to the lawyer of whatever side is calling you as a witness?
Sometimes that statement can be enough.


AgainstTheOddsNo2 · 18/06/2017 22:23

It depends how contentious your evidence is. If your statement can be agreed by both sides they may not require your attendance.


LauraMipsum · 18/06/2017 22:28


Get in touch with witness support first thing tomorrow and tell them - they will be able to move the trial.

So many trials collapse this way that canny defendants now plead not guilty on the basis that while they may well get a 1/3 discount on sentence for pleading guilty early, there is a better than 1/3 chance that the witnesses won't bother to show and the prosecution will offer no evidence.

If you speak to the court in advance they can move the trial, or as others have said you can claim on insurance, but please don't just not show up. If you do that you're weighting a case strongly against the prosecution and wasting MASSIVE amounts of public money: legal aid if the defendant has it, the police, CPS, judiciary, court costs, etc. Possibly inconveniencing other witnesses who DO show up. Please contact the court to rearrange rather than being the berk who wastes everyone's time and money and relieves some smirking dickhead of the need to incur the possibility of a criminal record. Thanks Grin


Floggingmolly · 18/06/2017 22:30

Not replying to the citation doesn't mean they won't be expecting you to show up Confused. Ffs!


42isthemeaning · 18/06/2017 22:32

Please read the title properly. Nowhere have I said I would just not turn up. Jeez!

OP posts:

howtopickausername · 18/06/2017 22:33

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

42isthemeaning · 18/06/2017 22:34

I asked if it would be unreasonable of me to say I cannot attend because I have a pre-booked holiday.

OP posts:

McTufty · 18/06/2017 22:36

If it is going on for several weeks then they should be able to accommodate you on a day that you are available.

Is it a criminal trial presumably? If so I'm less sure as I do civil but I think jiggling of witness timetables is common to all long trials regardless of jurisdiction.


MonkeylovesRobot · 18/06/2017 22:39

I just wonder if the court will accept that I can't attend on certain dates

NO, not if

It's something which is likely to go on for several weeks.

Do you realise how expensive a trial is? And how it has to follow a set procedure?


NC4now · 18/06/2017 22:48

Ring the person that has sent you the witness summons. There are ways round this. When they set a trial date they look at availability of witnesses - depending on how key you are to the case will depend how they deal with it.


INeedANameChange · 18/06/2017 22:48

Civil or criminal?

If it's civil and your evidence is imperative then whoever you're supporting will need to apply to the court to move the trial date.

Not so easy if it's criminal but if the trial lasts weeks then they should theoretically be able to call you on a day when you're not on holiday.


LauraMipsum · 18/06/2017 22:49

Your title was a bit ambiguous to lawyers who see witnesses not turn up quite frequently, sorry. If you mean AIBU to say I can't and then not show, yes that would be U. If you mean AIBU to ask them to move it for my availability, no, not at all, it's quite common for trials to be moved for witness availability or if it's a long trial, for the "batting order" of witnesses to be moved around to accommodate availability.


SometimesMaybe · 18/06/2017 22:51

You need to get in touch with whoever has cited you. It depends on the trial, what you are witness to etc. It can be possible for trials to be "part heard". E.g. Some evidence given then the rest held over for a later date (though this isn't ideal and wouldn't happen in a serious case). Depending on who you are witness for (prosecution or defence) your evidence (or part of it) may be agreed.
Get in touch and explain the situation. In my experience, in a minor trial a pre-booked holiday of an essential witness would usually mean the prosecution would ask for an adjournment and new date to be set, however for something more serious it might be less likely.


PoppyTree · 18/06/2017 22:53

Some courts will let you postpone to another time/another case for very little, and other won't let you even if it's something quite important.

Each court is different. You need to phone the court and ask if you can be deferred for another time/another case.

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