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Insights

The definition of credibility according to Cambridge English Dictionary is the “fact that someone can be believed or trusted”.

Many cases reach a turning point and can simply come down to whether the witness is to be believed. Does the Court take into account only the event and what the witness reenacts or remembers about it as truth or do they look to other sources such as body language, memory and hesitation on the record following cross examination.

In Queensland in the case of Sinclair v Sunshine Coast Independent Living Service Inc [2016] QSC 63 the Court did not accept the plaintiff’s account of hurting their back. The failure to report the injury and to have no support from treating doctors also swayed His Honour to find that no work incident took place. His Honour did note that it was possible that the GP, supervisor and co-worker could each have failed to note or recall the reporting by the Plaintiff but lent more to a finding that no reporting was in fact made because no such work incident took place.

If the Court had accepted that the incident took place at work then it is likely that the case would have succeeded and the employer would have been found negligent.

How much emphasis can we as lawyers suggest to the client the importance of credibility and should the facts of the case outweigh the credibility of the witness. It is only human nature that if one is to be believed then one should succeed but what if the witness’s account is correct but it is the way it is conveyed to the Court due to nerves or confidence. One can only think that witnesses need to be believed unless the evidence can demonstrate that the witness has intent to mislead to the Court.