Who is a Witness and Hostile Witness

Who is a Witness and Hostile Witness


This is the person (s) invited by a party in a suit to testify in his favour. Witness may be an eye- witness who witnessed or observed the transaction between the parties in the suit. He may also be a person who possessed evidence on the case before the court.

People are not usually selected on random basis to come and testify in the court as witness (es) instead they are usually invited to come and testify all that they know about the case between the parties. They must have acquired their evidence as an Eye witness, as a result of their office position or their relationship with either of the parties or from the testimonies of others.

Do note that except as provided in different legislations regulating tendering of evidence in the court, hearsay evidence is not admissible in many jurisdictions.

Witness (es) are indeed an important part of the case before the court. They can help in the success or failure of the case. The law permits the litigation Lawyer handling the case to prepare the witness very well.

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If the case is before a court of record, the witness may be expected to depose to a witness statement on Oath.

Witness Statement on Oath is a written statement of fact deposed to by a witness in a case, testifying all that he knows about the case involving the parties.

A witness may be arrested for perjury. Perjury is the act of telling lies on Oath.

Hostile Witness

The parties in a case in order for them to establish their case or defence may decide to call in witness and to also tender some evidences through this witness. The plaintiff shall be expected to invite those witness (es) that will help him establish his claim in the court while the Defendant shall also be expected to invite those witness (es) that will assist him to establish his defence.

The above assertion supports the claim that cases are not won on the altar of mere storytelling, you are expected to invite people whose testimony shall solidify your claim or defence.

Logically, Witness (es) are expected to testify in the favour of the parties that invited them. However, there are sometimes that some witnesses will decide to testify against the parties that invited them in a case and this instances ay give rise to what is called Hostile Witness.

Hostile witness is a witness invited by a party in a suit to come and testify in his favour but out of malice or any other factors turned his testimony against the party that called him. From the foregoing, it would be easy to state that a hostile witness is a witness who gives a testimony contrary to the interest of the party that invited him and its usually arguable that such testimony may not be true.

The law is that a party in a suit will not just hurriedly baptize a witness that he invited to come and testify for him in the court with the Nomenclature “Hostile Witness” until when he can establish that the witness is testifying falsely against his interest and the witness is also doing it intentionally.

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Moving on, declaring a witness, a hostile witness does not remove or alter the testimony he has given in the court and in the case that they invited him for, instead the law only permits the party that invited him to cross examine him over the testimony.

In the ordinary court practice, the party that called a witness to come and testify for him in a suit, only has the right to examine the witness in chief (examination in chief) and to re – examine the witness (Re- examination) and the opposing has the right to cross examine the witness (Cross examination). However, because of the issue of Hostile witness, the party that invited a party to come and testify in his favour can forge ahead to cross examine his hostile witness over the testimony he testified against him in the court over the same suit.

Do note that after the cross examination by the party that invited the hostile witness, the other party can also go ahead and conduct re-examination.

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