This is an extract of our Preliminary Issues Relating To Witnesses 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 12: Preliminary Issues Relating to Witnesses Competence and Compellability A competent witness is one who may be called to give evidence; a compellable witness is one who, being comment, may be compelled by the court to give evidence
- Not compelled per se. If witness refuses to answer questions during examination, then the witness will be sanctioned for contempt
- Also possible at closing statements to tell jury that witnesses' unwillingness to answer can affect her credibility No party has property in the evidence of a witness R v Kelly : once a witness in criminal proceedings has given evidence for protection, he cannot be called to give evidence for the defence R v Davies : expert witness may not be called by one party if his opinion is based on privileged information, and cannot be divorced from it C. General Rule s 53(1) Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999: everyone is a competent witness 'in any stage of the proceedings'
- Exceptions: children, persons with disorder or disability of the mind, and accused in relation to being a prosecution witness
- Eg. of 'Any stage': Newton hearing (guilty but not as serious as P makes out), appeal by rehearing, void dere All competent witnesses are compellable
- Exceptions: accused, accused's spouse or civil partner, heads of sovereign states, diplomats and bankers (in certain circumstances)
D. The Accused
1. For the prosecution s 53(4) YJCEA: accused, whether charged solely or jointly, is not competent as a witness for the prosecution
- Exception per s 53(5): co-accused may be called as prosecution witness when he ceases to be a coaccused; e.g.:
* Result of pleading guilty
* Co-accused acquitted
* Application to sever indictment is successful so that he is not tried with accused
* AG files nolle prosequi (the dismissal or termination of legal proceedings)
2. For himself Accused is a competent (s 53 YJCEA) but not a compellable witness (s 1(1) Criminal Evidence Act 1898) for the defence in all criminal proceedings
- Accused who is a witness is treated like any other witness and his evidence will be evidence for all purposes of the case
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