Pre-Trial Examination of Evidence


Civil Cases

The parties must exchange written statements of evidence prior to trial. At the case management conference, the court usually gives directions regarding the exchange of witness statements.

There is no independent examination of evidence before trial but the courts have the power to identify or limit the issues for witness evidence, identify which witnesses give evidence and limit the length of witness statements. Parties who seek to adduce expert evidence must identify the issues the evidence will address and provide a cost estimate.


Criminal Cases

Once the police have completed their investigations, they refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for advice on how to proceed in all but the most minor and routine cases. The CPS then makes a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

The CPS prosecutor reads the file and considers the two tests in 'The Code for Crown Prosecutors', which sets out the basic principles that Crown prosecutors must follow when making prosecution decisions.

The prosecutor must first decide whether or not there is enough evidence against the defendant for a realistic prospect of conviction. If the CPS decides that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, they must then consider whether it is in the public interest to prosecute the defendant.