Is there a lower age limit on children giving evidence?

Is there a lower age limit when a child may give evidence in civil proceedings?

No. Section 96 of the Children Act 1989 states:

  1. subsection (2) applies where a child who is called as a witness in any civil proceedings does not, in the opinion of the court, understand the nature of an oath
  2. the child’s evidence may be heard by the court if, in its opinion –
    1. he understands that it is his duty to speak the truth, and
    2. he has sufficient understanding to justify his evidence being heard

The evidence of a child who, in the opinion of the court, does not understand the nature of an oath may be heard if they:

  • understand that it is their duty to speak the truth and
  • have sufficient understanding to justify the evidence being heard

Although section 96 does not expressly provide, the implication is that in such circumstances, the child will give evidence unsworn.

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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