Evidence governs what evidence may be presented and contested in the courtroom, techniques for eliciting evidence, and the role of the lawyers, jury and judge in an adversarial system. Highly relevant to actual day-to-day legal practice, this module will appeal particularly to students intending to become courtroom lawyers.
- Basic concepts of relevance, admissibility and weight: Nature and classification of various types of evidence. Objectives of evidence law and determination of probative value.
- Burden of proof: Legal and evidential burdens. Allocation of the legal burden in criminal and civil trials. The standard of proof.
- Confessions and improperly obtained evidence: Defining. Using and excluding confessions. Using and excluding improperly obtained evidence. Entrapment.
- The right to silence and adverse inferences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
- Hazardous witness testimony and judicial warnings. Makanjuola warnings: Directions about a defendant’s lies. Eyewitness identification. Dangers and pre-trial identification procedures. Directions to the jury and withdrawal of the case/evidence.
- Evidence of a complainant’s extraneous sexual behaviour in trials of sexual offences: Legislative background. Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. Sections 41–43 and its interpretation in the case law.
- Character evidence: Good and bad character evidence and the admissibility gateways for bad character evidence and critical evaluation of these.
- The rule against hearsay: The rule (its definition, scope and rationale). The definition of hearsay in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Exceptions to the rule. The impact of Article 6(3)(d) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
- Expert evidence: Admissibility. Evaluation of the law (including judicial directions) and practice.
If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical awareness of the relationship between the theoretical context of the law of evidence (its policy aims and objectives) and the common law and legislative provisions in the law of evidence;
- Explain and distinguish between legal and evidential burdens of proof; the role of policy in the allocation of burdens; the difficulties in determining whether a statute has impliedly placed a burden of proof on a defendant and the role of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights in this determination;
- Construct an argument for or against the relevance of a particular piece of evidence and be able to construct an argument for or against the admissibility of a range of types of evidence including that which has been unlawfully obtained, that which may be more prejudicial than probative, sexual history evidence, bad character evidence, evidence of a defendant’s silence, hearsay evidence, expert evidence and eyewitness identification evidence;
- Explain and critically evaluate judicial warnings to the jury.
- Analyse and interpret complex legal questions and problems;
- Evaluate and critique a range of legal materials and arguments;
- Distinguish between different types of evidence;
- Utilise accurately legal terminology appropriate to this area of law.
3hr 15 mins unseen examination
The essential reading for this course is the subject guide and reading pack provided. The extracts are from:
- Choo, A. Evidence. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) fourth edition [ISBN 9780198705277].
- Durston, G. Evidence: text and materials. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) second edition [ISBN 9780199583607].