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Hearsay Evidence Notes

BPTC Law Notes > Criminal Evidence Notes

This is an extract of our Hearsay Evidence document, which we sell as part of our Criminal Evidence Notes collection written by the top tier of City Law School students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Criminal Evidence Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Syllabus 14: Hearsay Evidence Criminal Justice Act 2003, s.114
- (1) In criminal proceedings a statement not made in oral evidence in the proceedings is admissible as evidence of any matter stated if, but only if---
(a) any provision of this Chapter or any other statutory provision makes it admissible, (b) any rule of law preserved by section 118 makes it admissible, (c) all parties to the proceedings agree to it being admissible, or (d) the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice for it to be admissible. Despite regulation by statute, common law hearsay authorities remain valid insofar as they do not conflict with the statute
- e.g. s.115(3) on definition of 'matter stated' reverses hearsay aspects of HL's decision in Kearley Difference between common law and statutory regime
- Statutory regime provides for general 'interests of justice' admission of hearsay evidence; under common law position, hearsay rule applied mechanically to exclude evidence (including evidence of undoubtable probative value) from inclusion if they did not fit the specific exceptions

* Greater scope for admitting hearsay: infringement of right to fair trial?

* Strasbourg noted it isn't, so long as it is properly applied

* Nonetheless, domestic court recognised the care involved in employing statute to admit hearsay evidence: the more central the evidence, the more care required

* Friel [2012] EWCA Crim 2871, per Gross LJ: hearsay evidence should never be 'nodded through or adduced as a matter of routine'

* Horncastle v UK [2015]: There should be a good reason for witness' non-attendance, and that there should be sufficient safeguards to permit a proper assessment of the reliability of the evidence Rationale of hearsay rule
- At common law: 'the fear that juries might given undue weight to evidence the truth of which could not be tested by cross-examination, and possibly also the risk of an account becoming distorted as it was passed from one person to another' (Sharp [1988] 1 All ER 65, per Lord Havers
- Under statute: in Horncastle [2010] 2 AC 373, Lord Phillips (representing SC) placed more emphasis on the effect on reliability Admitted hearsay evidence are not treated as first-hand evidence Where a person admits something, his own knowledge of which is based on hearsay, the admission does not prove the fact
- In a sense, the admission is 'double hearsay' along a chain of hearsay

Defining Hearsay s.114: a statement not made in oral evidence in the proceedings is admissible as evidence of any matter stated if s.115

- (2) A statement is any representation of fact or opinion made by a person by whatever means; and it includes a representation made in a sketch, photofit or other pictorial form.'
- (3) A matter stated is one to which this Chapter applies if (and only if) the purpose, or one of the purposes, of the person making the statement appears to the court to have been---
(a) to cause another person to believe the matter, or (b) to cause another person to act or a machine to operate on the basis that the matter is as stated. 'Statements'
- Statement may be hearsay notwithstanding that it was made on oath in other proceedings
- Out-of-court statements will not be hearsay if tendered as evidence of consistency rather than of a matter stated
- Use of previous inconsistent statement is not hearsay when trended merely to show inconsistency
- Purely mechanical generation of an image is not hearsay (made by a person), e.g. CCTV
- Whether computer generated information is hearsay depends on how the computer is used: if it is used to calculate, then no; if it is used to record information that is supplied by a person, then yes 'Matter stated'
- Evidence that is sought to establish the truth of the matter
- E.g. where it is sought to establish the registration number of a car involved in an accident, an eyewitness A, who saw the accident, relates the number to B who has not. It is hearsay for B to tell the court what the number was for the purpose of proving the truth of A's statement s.115(3) is intended to reverse hearsay aspects of HL decision in Kearley [1992] 2 AC 228
- K charged with possession of controlled drug with intent to supple; amount of drug in K's possession is not enough to warrant inference of such an intent
- P relied on evidence that, after K's arrest, a number of telephone calls had been made to his home where callers asked for K by his nickname and sought to buy drugs
- HL held that hearsay rule precluded the use of the callers' requests as implied assertions by them that K was a supplier
- Lord Ackner: just as a request for drugs continuing express statement that K was a supplier would clearly have been objectionable as hearsay, so a request containing an implied assertion to the same effect is also caught under the hearsay rule
- Under new regime, it would not have been hearsay: where the speaker believes that the hearer already knows the matter in question, it could not have been made with either of the hearsay purposes in mind, so the evidence cannot be hearsay CA in Twist [2011] 3 All ER 1055 set a three-stage test for ascertaining hearsay
- Ascertain the matter sought to be proved; identify the purpose of the party in adducing a communication
- Whether there is a statement of that matter in the communication (only express statements allowed)
- Was it one of the purposes that the recipient, or any other person, should believe that matter or that a person should act upon the basis that it is as stated?
Eg of applications

- In general, adducing text messages to prove intent to supply is not caught by hearsay rule as it can't be the case that the consumers are trying the dealer to believe that he is a dealer (he already knows he is)
- Lowe appeal: L was charged with twice raping his girlfriend following an argument; defence was consent and L claimed that the argument followed the intercourse. Messages from L to complainant were highly relevant, but L was not seeking to cause complainant to believe she had been raped: 'if that is what the messages meant, they both knew that'
- Threats are not deemed hearsay if made to prove defence of duress
- Lies are not hearsay (you can't intend to make someone believe wha you know is not true)
* Thus, if both parties know of the matter, then it is not hearsay (since you can't convince a person to believe what he already knows) aka 'common understanding' There may be difficulty in determining whether a statement is directed at another person
- E.g. diaries: are they for third parties' read, or for author's sole use?

* Marine Fisheries Agency v Inter Fish Ltd [2009]: diary in this case was for third parties as it was more of a record with entries made by a third party A statement may be used to prove the knowledge of the maker without infringing the hearsay rule
- Roberts v DPP [1994] Crim LR 926: where D denied knowing that certain premises were being used as a brothel, an advertisement he had sought to place, referring to the premises and containing a reference to 'many stunning masseuses', was admissible to show that he did know

Warning as to Quality of Hearsay Given the new statutory regime which makes it easier to admit hearsay evidence, important that jury be made aware of the potential weakness in hearsay evidence Grant v The State [2007] 1 AC 1, Privy Council considered elements of a direction hearsay received under a similar statutory regime as CJA 2003
- Necessary to remind jury that the statement has not been verified on oath nor tested by XX
- Judge should point out the specific risks of relying on such evidence and invite the jury to scrutinise the evidence with particular care
- Jury's attention should be drawn to the context of all the evidence
- If there are discrepancies between statement and the evidence of other witnesses, jury's attention should be specifically drawn to them Failure to give such directions will not necessarily render the trial unfair CA in Williams [2014] EWCA Crim 1862 noted that the judge has a power to warn the jury about the dangers of hearsay evidence from the defence
- Fulford LJ: though the judge must be 'scrupulous to ensure that he does not shift the burden of proof away from the prosecution'
- Abiodun [2003] EWCA Crim 2167: a mild direction 'which simply reminded the jury of what in any event would have bene obvious to them, ie that the witness had not been cross-examined' was held not to have impinged on the fairness of proceedings

Exceptions to Rule Against Hearsay Overall aim is to ensure that, subject to necessary safeguards, relevant evidence should be admitted where that is in the interests of justice Currently governed by provisions of Criminal Justice Act 2003
- Consistent with right to fair trial: Horncastle [2010] 2 AC 373

* Grand Chamber accepts that, contrary to previous Strasbourg case law, CJA 2003 contains sufficient safeguards against risk of wrongful conviction: Al-Khawaja and Tahery v UK [2012]
54 EHRR 807; Horncaslte v UK [2015] 60 EHRR 1331 Four exceptions to rule against hearsay: s.114(1)(a) - (d) CJA 2003
- Statutory exceptions

* Confined to specific exceptions provided in the statute, and thus does not render admissible evidence of an ID at a parade merely because it took place in accordance with statutory code of practice (Lynch [2008] 1 Cr App R 337)

* s.116: Witness unavailable

* s.117: business and other documents
- Common-law exceptions preserved under CJA

* s.118: evidence of public information, reputation, res gestae, confession and admissions, common enterprise, expert evidence
- Agreement of all parties
- In the 'interests of justice' Three related provisions on ensuring that weigh of hearsay can be properly assessed, relied upon to the extent that it is fair to do so
- s.124: testing of credibility where maker of a hearsay statement does not attend to testify
- s.125: power of Crown Court to stop a case where evidence is unconvincing
- s.126: discretion to exclude superfluous evidence Notice of admission of hearsay evidence
- Crim PR Part 20 provides procedure to be followed and other conditions to be fulfilled by a party proposing to tender a hearsay statement under only the following provisions:

* s.114(1)(d) (interests of justice), s.116 (witness unavailable), s.117(1)(c) (evidence in a statement prepared for the purposes of criminal proceedings), s.121(multiple hearsay)

* Other forms of hearsay do not require notice
- Crim PR r 34.7(2): in an appeal to the Crown Court, where a party wants to adduce hearsay evidence under Part 20, such a party must serve the notice or application to introduce evidence required by that Part not more than 14 days after service of the appeal notice
- Courts have wide power to dispense with notice requirement, or to allow notice to be given in a different form (e.g. orally)
- Party entitled to notice may waive entitlement
- Court not obliged to give leave to a co-accused who has failed to comply with notice procedure where to do so would cause incurable unfairness to P or fellow D: Musone [2007] 1 WLR 2467
- Rules do not expressly provide that failure to oppose a notice of hearsay will be treated as agreement

* While s.132(4) stipulates that rules may so provide, they have not

* Court appears to have discretion in the matter

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