General principles relating to evidence
The first rule of evidence is that it must be
relevant to be admissible. For the evidence to be relevant, those
facts which are subject to being proved or disproved must amount to:
- Facts in issue, i.e. those which need to
be proved by one party;
- Relevant facts, i.e. those which tend to
prove the facts in issue;
- Collateral facts which may for example
affect the credibility and/or competence of a witness.
Types of evidence
There are a number of different types of
- Testimony - the oral statement of a
witness made on oath in open court and put forward as evidence
of the truth of what he or she says.
- Real evidence - this is usually a
material object of some kind, which is produced for inspection,
either to prove that it exists, or so that the court can make an
inference as to its condition or value, for example ripped
clothing, a knife or burnt document.
- Hearsay evidence - when a witness, or
someone else, makes a statement other than in the course of
their testimony, this is referred to as an ‘out of court
statement.’ Hearsay evidence is an out of court statement which
is being relied upon to prove the truth of its contents.
- Original evidence - this is an out of
court statement offered for a relevant purpose other than
proving the truth of its contents, for example to prove
something was said at all.
- Documentary evidence - this consists of
documents which have been produced for inspection by the court.
These may be items of real evidence, original evidence or
Real evidence usually takes the form of some
kind of material object produced before the court. it is normally
produced to show that it exists or so that an inference can be drawn
from its physical properties or its condition, or from the fact that
it was found at a particular place or in someone’s possession. An
example of real evidence would be a knife alleged to have been used
in the commission of a murder or faulty goods produced to show
evidence of the particular fault in question.
Real evidence includes: material objects; the
appearance of people/animals; demeanour of witnesses; views and
Original evidence is defined as an out of
court statement tendered for some purpose other than to establish
the truth of the facts it contains. The making of the statement will
wither itself be a fact in issue, or relevant to a fact in issue.
The statement as a fact in issue:
- Where the making of a statement is,
itself, a fact in issue, the statement will be admissible to
show that it was made, but it will remain inadmissible as to the
truth of its contents.
Statements relevant to a fact in issue:
- Making of statement relevant to a fact in
issue; Statement admitted to show the state of mind of the
maker; Statement admitted to show state of mind of person who
heard it; Statement admitted to allow tribunal of fact to draw
inferences from falsity of statement.
- To prove the truth of its content. This
includes an out of court statement made by the witness him or
herself as well as an out of court statement made to the witness
by someone else. The admissibility of hearsay evidence is set
out under s 114 of The Criminal Justice Act 2003. S 115 of the
Criminal Justice Act 2003 further tightens up the definition by
making it clear that you need to consider the purpose of the
person making the statement (as well as the purpose of the party
relying upon it in court) when deciding whether a piece of
evidence is hearsay evidence or not.