The applicant in the family court has used multiple false statements and affidavits to drag a case for 10 years. The applicant's lawyer has used false statements in the court to get decisions in the applicant's favor. How can the defendant confront this in the family court or the criminal court? Can the applicant's lawyer be sued for damages arising from such a decision?

2 Answers 2


False statements can only be countered by conflicting testimony or evidence. "You lied" is not evidence.

Unless you can prove that opposing counsel knew their own statements to be false, your chance of action against an opposing attorney is effectively nil. Given that the opposing party cannot disprove the "false" statements, the chance of proving an attorney knew them to be false is vanishingly small.


“Lied” is a word that courts and tribunals are very reluctant to use

Just because a witness’ testimony is at variance from other witnesses or even from documentary evidence, that doesn’t mean they “lied”. Lying, or perjury to give it its legal name when done under oath, is a very serious criminal allegation and it requires evidence sufficient to meet the beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof.

Speaking an untruth is not lying/perjury. For example, s327 of the Crimes Act 1900 defines perjury as “any false statement on oath concerning any matter which is material to the proceeding, knowing the statement to be false or not believing it to be true”, so the crime has three elements: falsity, materiality, and knowledge or belief of the speaker”.

Falsity is determined by looking at and weighing the contradictory evidence. The fact that the other party to the case says it’s false is pretty weak evidence, certainly not enough to meet beyond reasonable doubt. Contemporaneous records - photos, videos, stamps in passports, emails, bank statements - are good evidence.

Materiality is a question of law, not of fact, so it is determined by the judge, not the jury. A statement is material if and only if it bears on the outcome of a case. So, it has to be something that actually bears on the outcome of the case and it has to be something that if said differently might reasonable change the outcome.

Knowing it’s false or not believing it’s true is the real trick. Human memory is fallible. You can be utterly convinced that you saw or heard or said something and your mind will persist in that belief even when confronted with unequivocal evidence that you’re wrong. Our capacity for self-delusion is utterly remarkable. Our brains will create false memories and false narratives particularly when there is a motivation for doing so. Just look at any sports crowd after a 50-50 call - half will be utterly convinced they saw the foul and half will be utterly convinced the referee is blind.

Certainly when I’m sitting as an arbitrator or adjudicator I take it as a given the witnesses believe what they say. They may be mistaken in that belief, but that doesn’t make them a liar.

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