The examination in chief refers to the questioning of a witness in court by the party who called that witness to give evidence. The purpose of examination in chief is to put the evidence of the witness before the court. That evidence can then subsequently be challenged by the cross-examination, conducted by the opposing party. Following cross-examination, a re-examination may be granted in order to clarify evidence.
Examination in chief, like all evidence, is subject to the rules of procedure and admissibility contained in the relevant state or territory legislation (for NSW, the Evidence Act 1995). Procedurally, witnesses must be sworn in with an oath or affirmation before the examination in chief to promote truth-telling. There are also some limitations on the kinds of questions that may be asked, particularly with regard to leading questions, attempts to revive memory, and other manner and form requirements. Examination in chief is subject to all the rules of admissibility.