Unfavourable Witnesses:An unfavourable witness is one whose testimony does not advance the case of the party who called him, despite the witness's best intentions. A witness will be unfavourable if they cannot recall some of the facts about their testimony. If you come across an unfavourable witness you can ask the court for leave for the witness to refresh his memory by reading his previous statement. It is very often the case that cases come to trial many months after the witness has provided a statement.Â Â Â Therefore, it is important that before your witness gives their evidence that they have the opportunity to read their previous statements to refresh their memory so that when they are being asked questions they are familiar with what they said in their original statement.Â They are then less likely to become an unfavourable witness and will hopefully enhance the strength of your case. If after reading their previous statement the witness still cannot recall the facts then you cannot assist your witness by putting leading questions or prompting them. You should instead try to get the witness out of the witness box as soon as possible.
Hostile Witnesses:A hostile witness is different from an unfavourable one.Â Whilst an unfavourable witness can be potentially damaging to your case, a more serious situation is having a hostile witness. A witness will be 'hostile' if the evidence they give is harmful to the side calling them and it conflicts with the expectations of that side. hostile witness will have no desire to tell the truth and support the case of the party calling him. An example of a witness being hostile is a witness who has deliberately changed their evidence since they made their original statement.Â The party calling this witness can ask the Judge to grant leave to treat them as a hostile witness.
When a party call a witness, and at the time of witness – the witness recorded unfavorable witness to the party called, then the party may request the judge to declare the witness as a hostile.
Once a witness declared hostile, the party called cannot take advantage from his witness, using part of his witness, but opposite party may use it’s favorable portion. This is the bad side of declaring a witness hostile.