Evidence in court proceedings

In any court case, the parties must produce evidence in support of their case – whether that is the claimaint/prosecution or the defence. Without supporting evidence, the claim/prosecution or defence is highly likely to fail.

Whilst witness evidence is critical in court proceedings, not all evidence produced is in fact admissible. There are clear legal rules as to what evidence is admissible in court. The first rule of evidence is that it must be relevant to be admissible. For the evidence to be relevant, the facts which are subject to being proved or disproved must amount to:

  • Facts in issue, ie. those which need to be proved by one party.
  • Relevant facts, ie. 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 different types of evidence:

  • Oral testimony: the oral statement of a witness made on oath in open court and put forward as evidence of its truth.
  • Witness statements and expert reports: written statements made by witnesses including expert reports, which are produced in the proceedings as evidence.
  • Real (tangible) 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 documents.
  • Hearsay evidence: hearsay evidence is a statement not made in oral evidence in the proceedings that is evidence of the matter stated.
  • Documentary evidence: documents including digital records of communications, and so on, produced as evidence to the court.

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For more information on:

  • Oral evidence
  • Witness statements
  • Real evidence
  • Documentary evidence
  • Hearsay evidence