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Civil Proceedings: requests and summonses to attend civil cases

Summary

This guidance explains how to respond to summonses to attend civil proceedings and requests from parties to civil proceedings to give evidence.

It is not intended to deal with situations where an inspector is asked to give evidence for a defendant in a criminal trial, or to give evidence at an inquiry. In either of these two instances inspectors should seek advice from Legal Advisers’ Office (LAO). 

Introduction

HSE's policy, as an independent regulator, is not to become involved in civil disputes unless at the request of the court in the civil proceedings.  Generally, inspectors, including specialist inspectors, should not voluntarily get involved with civil claims at all, either by making statements or agreeing to give evidence in court, unless witness summonsed.

Action

Requests to provide factual evidence

Inspectors should be aware of the Voluntary Disclosure Procedure in civil cases, see   {Disclosure for the purposes of civil proceedings}.  Please note it does not cover witness attendance.

If a party to civil proceedings wishes any member of HSE staff to make a statement, approve a witness summary or appear in court to give evidence, such involvement diverts resources from inspectors’ core duties.  You should:

If you are subject to such requests you should make the following enquiries:

If the party concerned has drafted a statement or witness summary on your behalf about matters of which you have no or limited first-hand knowledge, you should:

It is up to the party concerned whether they then wish to seek a witness summons.  If you do receive a summons, you should write to the party who has summonsed you, indicating that you will:

If you have been summonsed to attend on a date that you cannot make because ,for example you are on holiday abroad, you should notify the court and the party concerned immediately.

Note: Inspectors cannot be summonsed to give expert evidence (see below).

Requests to act as an expert witness

Note: a person, whether or not an Inspector, cannot be summonsed to give evidence as an expert witness.

Expert witnesses must be instructed by one or other of the parties to the proceedings. They are required to abide by set criteria in assisting the Court come to a decision in providing opinion on the evidence presented.

For an HSE inspector to act as an expert witness by giving opinion on matters relating to an incident in which they have been involved, either as an investigator or an expert witness, is incompatible with their role as an employee of HSE.

If an inspector is asked to do so, or to act as an independent expert in civil proceedings, they should:

Attending Court

If you have been summonsed, you must comply with the summons. HSE will release you to attend on the required days as you are on official duty.

To help minimise the time you spend at court you should:

Recovering Costs

If summoned, all travel and subsistence costs should be receipted. The party summonsing your attendance will be able to advise how HSE staff should submit claims for these costs. 

There is no provision for inspectors to charge an hourly rate for attendance or for HSE to reclaim their salary, nor is there provision for inspectors/HSE to claim for any preparatory work.

Background

Once any criminal proceedings have ended, the parties involved in civil proceedings are able to obtain factual information held on HSE’s records under FOIA, the Data protection Act  1998 (DPA)  and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).  See Disclosure for the purposes of civil proceedings.  for guidance

Organisation

Not applicable

Contacts

FOD HQ Legal & Enforcement Account
Updated 2015-09-25