Witness familiarisation and preparation service

Witness familiarisation and preparation reduces anxiety and shows the witness how best to deal with tough cross-examination.
Penny has developed her expertise in witness familiarisation for witnesses of fact and expert witnesses over the last twenty years. She provides a confidential witness preparation service for many top law firms in court cases and commercial arbitrations. She is widely published on the subject of witness familiarisation and regarded as one of the country’s leading experts in this area.

About witness familiarisation

A typical one-to-one witness preparation session with Penny will last approximately three to three and a half hours. The session will include a detailed explanation of the hearing process, the roles of the key people (judge, witness and advocates), cross-examination aims, cross-examination techniques, preparing to give evidence, how to stay calm and how to deliver complete, accurate and coherent evidence.
Penny, once described in the Solicitor’s Journal as ‘charmingly ferocious’,  will then conduct a mock cross-examination on a case study unconnected with the facts of the forthcoming matter. (Mock cross-examination and feedback is permissible however ‘dress-rehearsal’ cross-examination on the facts of the case is not.)
Penny will provide feedback to the witness in the session and after the event in the form of a written report to the client.

All enquiries and witness familiarisation sessions are confidential.

“Witnesses should not be disadvantaged by ignorance of the process, nor when they come to give evidence, taken by surprise at the way it works. None of this however involves discussions about proposed or intended evidence. Sensible preparation for the experience of giving evidence, which assists the witness to give of his or her best at the forthcoming trial is permissible… The process may improve the manner in which the witness gives evidence by, for example, reducing the nervous tension arising from inexperience of the process.” Lord Justice Judge in R v Momodou [2005] EWCA Crim 177.

Please email penny@pennycooper.co.uk to discuss your witness familiarisation needs.

Advice regarding vulnerable witnesses, defendants and parties

Working with vulnerable witnesses and defendants is a specialist skill.
Penny has a particular interest and expertise where a witness or party is affected by an autism spectrum condition/ Asperger Syndrome.
Leading barristers in high profile cases regularly contact Penny for confidential, case specific advice.

Penny advises on:

  • Obtaining expert evidence for the court on witness/ defendant ‘vulnerability’.
  • Identifying a suitable witness/ defendant intermediary.
  • Witness familiarisation and support.
  • The use of ground rules hearings.
  • Combining special measures.
  • Adapting cross-examination etc.

‘Vulnerable’ is a term used in law to refer to those at risk of unfair treatment if adjustments or ‘special measures’ are not put in place. Penny has been at the forefront of developments in this area for many years and provides training and advice for judges, advocates and many professional associations.

If you are a lawyer wishing to instruct Penny, please contact Senior Practice Manager Sheraton Doyle at 39 Essex Chambers on +44 (0)20 7832 1111.

Training and mentoring

Penny’s experience designing and delivering practical and interactive legal courses is extensive.

Courses include:

  • Registered Intermediary training.
  • Special measures and adjustments for vulnerable witnesses and parties.
  • Asperger Syndrome/ autism spectrum conditions and court adaptations.
  • Courtroom skills.
  • Report writing for court.
  • Legal skills for social workers.
  • Information sharing/ data protection and safeguarding.

Penny has recently delivered training for the Ministry of Justice, Criminal Bar Association, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Judicial Institute for Scotland, the National Crime Agency, several leading law firms, expert witnesses etc. Her experience is international; as well as working across the British Isles she has worked in law firms in Bermuda and Dallas, has provided witness preparation in Hong Kong and Indonesia and advocacy training to prosecutors in South Africa.

Please email penny@pennycooper.co.uk to discuss your training needs.


Penny mentors early career researchers, particularly those keen to take a strategic approach to their research/ research impact.


Penny has appeared many times on BBC TV and Radio as a legal expert on vulnerable witnesses.

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