Rules for Giving Evidence


  • The veterinary practitioner, when summoned to court as an expert witness, must remember that he is there to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and should, therefore, give his evidence irrespective as to whether it was likely to lead to conviction or acquittal of the accused. His evidence should be relevant, reliable and clear.
  • He should speak slowly, distinctly and audibly to enable the judge and counsel to hear him and to take notes of his evidence.
  • He should use plain and simple language, avoiding all technicalities, as the bench and the bar are not expected to be familiar with veterinary terms. It is no use showing his erudition by using these terms; however, if he cannot help using any veterinary terms he should try to explain it in ordinary language as far as possible.
  • He should avoid long discussions, especially theoretical arguments. His answers should be brief and precise, and in the form of "yes" or "no". However, by doing so, if he finds that what he means to say is not understood he can explain his answer after obtaining permission from the judge.
  • If he does not know or remember any particular point, he should not hesitate to say so and must not hazard a guess in a doubtful case; also he should never assume the function of the judge or jury by giving an opinion on the merits of the case.
  • He should remember that the lawyer has practically unlimited license and latitude in putting questions to the witness in cross-examination, and consequently he should never lose his temper, but should appear cool and dignified, even if questions of an irritable nature be put to him. However, he should have no complaint against lawyers. They have great regard for him and have shown the greatest amount of courtesy to him at the time of his deposition in court.
  • The veterinary witness may refresh his memory from his own report already forwarded to the court, but should not do so from his private notes, unless they agree word for word with the original, made at the time of, or immediately after, the occurrence of the event, and were written by him or certified to be correct if written by his assistant; besides, he should be prepared to have them put in as exhibits if desired by the judge or counsel.
  • He should not quote the opinion of other veterinarians or quote from text-books regarding the case. He is supposed to express an opinion from his own know ledge and experience.
  • When counsel quotes a passage from a text-book and asks the witness whether he agrees with it, he should, before replying, take the book, note the date of its publication, read the paragraph and context, and then state whether he agrees or not; for, counsel usually reads only that portion which is favourable to his case, and the meaning may be completely altered when it is read in reference to context. In spite of this precaution he should stick to his opinion ifit is still his opinion, and ifhe finds that it differs from the one expressed in the book. To avoid being surprised by such quotations, however, it is advisable to study all the available literature on the subject before giving evidence in court.
Last modified: Tuesday, 5 June 2012, 10:42 AM