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First-tier Tribunal discourages oral evidence from abroad
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The President of the First-tier Tribunal has put out new guidance on witnesses dialling in to give evidence from abroad. It is decidedly negative, stressing the need to get consent — via the Foreign Office, in a prescribed manner — from the government of the country in question. Even if there is consent, the judge can simply refuse to allow it. Witnesses are strongly encouraged to give evidence in writing instead.
The obligation continues to rest upon the party proposing to adduce oral evidence from overseas by video or telephone link, to establish to the satisfaction of the First-tier Tribunal (IAC) that there is no legal or diplomatic barrier to their doing so…
Each case will be considered upon its own merits, but even if a party is able to establish that there is no legal or diplomatic objection to a witness giving oral evidence to the Tribunal by video or telephone from the territory in which they are situated, it will remain a matter of judicial discretion by reference to the overriding objective as to whether such oral evidence should be admitted, balancing the need to avoid delay and the need to ensure that insofar as is practicable the best evidence is before the Tribunal on the issues that are central to the proceedings before it. The Tribunal will always need to consider the alternatives available.