hearsay evidence

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Oral or written statements made by someone other than during his testimony in court but which the court is asked to accept as evidence for the truth of what is stated. In general, hearsay evidence has been inadmissible (the rule against hearsay) but this principle has always been subject to numerous exceptions. In civil proceedings, the Civil Evidence Act 1995 abolished the rule against hearsay and provides that what would formerly have been called “hearsay evidence” may be used when a notice of the intention to rely on that evidence is given. It is for the court to decide at trial what weight to put on any particular evidence, whether it is hearsay or not. The admissibility of hearsay evidence in criminal proceedings is now governed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which provides that a statement not made in oral evidence in the proceedings may be admissible as evidence of any matter stated if the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice for it to be admissible. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 specifically provides for the admissibility of the hearsay evidence of unavailable witnesses and preserves the common law rules relating to the admissibility of * res gestae and confessions in criminal proceedings. The Act also provides for the admissibility of previous inconsistent statements and other previous statements, including complaints made by a victim as soon as could reasonably be expected after the offence was committed.

Subjects: Law.

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