Module Identifier LA37410  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Mr Gavin S Dingwall  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Neil Kibble  
Pre-Requisite LA10110 or LA30110. LA10420 or LA30420  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminars / Tutorials   4 Hours Seminar. four one hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam1.5 Hours Students will be permitted to take copies of Blackstone's Statutes on Evidence into the examination.  50%
Semester Assessment Essay: 2000 word assessed essay required by week 8  50%
Supplementary Assessment By retaking the failed element (ie written assignment or examination or both, as applicable) 
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional purposes  

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Students should be able to:

Learn to identify, understand and explain the main rules of evidence.
Understand the theories and principles underlying these rules.
Critically analyse the effictiveness of the law.
Identify evidential issues in problem scenarios, state the applicable principles and apply them to a novel fact scenario.
Critically debate issues and present a balanced and coherent argument.

Brief description

The law of evidence governs the methods by which matters may be proved for the purposes of legal proceedings. It is therefore a subject of considerable practical importance, and one which impinges on almost every other area of law. Having the substantive law on your side (or on the side of your client) will be of little use if you cannot persuade the court or jury to believe your version of the facts, but you cannot do this unless you know what evidence will be acceptable to the court, and how it may be presented. English law does not apply the continental doctrine of "free appreciation of evidence". Instead, it applies a number of strict rules, prohibiting the use of certain kinds of evidence, even in some cases where common sense might suggest that they would be highly relevant. Other rules govern the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and determine whether the testimony of a particular witness requires corroboration or support before it can be relied upon. These rules are often open to serious criticism, but must nevertheless be identified and understood. If an original document has been lost, will the court accept a copy instead? Will it accept the evidence of a young child? If an alleged rapist has previous convictions for sexual assault, should the jury be told? Would it make any difference if he was claiming to be of good character? Can inferences be drawn from the failure of a defendant to testify at his trial, or from his failure to answer questions following arrest? Does it matter whether evidence has been obtained by improper means? Should it matter, and if so why? The law of evidence also prescribes the allocation of the burden of proof as between the parties to litigation, and the standard of proof that must be satisfied. As a general rule, it is for the prosecution to discharge the burden of proof in criminal cases, and for the plaintiff or petitioner to do so in civil cases; but the general rule is littered with express and implied exceptions, which can make the study of this topic anything but straightforward.


The course has a practical bias, and a strong bias towards the criminal side of the law, where the most acute evidence problems arise, and from which the vast majority of reported evidence cases originate. The course aims to ensure that students learn to identify, understand and explain the main rules of evidence. The theories or principles underlying the various rules are explained (where these can be identified) and students are encouraged to look critically at both the rules and the theories. Some psychology is involved; but this is not a strongly theoretical course. On completion of the course, students will be expected to demonstrate a wide general knowledge of the English law of evidence. The final examination will test their ability to identify evidential issues in problems, to state the legal principles applicable (criticising them where appropriate) and to apply those principles so as to indicate possible solutions to the problems. Essay questions will meanwhile examine their ability to analyse and criticise various aspects of the law of evidence at a more general or theoretical level.


The course will be taught by the usual system of lectures and seminars. The lectures will provide an introduction to the various topics, together with a fairly significant amount of detailed information, criticism and analysis. The handouts do not, however, include detailed case summaries, and must not be seen as substitutes for library research or textbooks. Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to examine particular areas in greater detail, and will provide practical guidance on problem solving.

1. Introduction to the Law of Evidence

2. The Burden of Proof

2.1 The different burdens and the rule in Woolmington.

2.2 Implied statutory exceptions.

3. Competence and Compellability of Witnesses

4. Protecting Witnesses

5. Examination in Chief

5.1 Introduction, leading questions and previous consistent statements.

5.2 Refreshing the memory and adverse and hostile witnesses.

6. Cross Examination

6.1 The general rules of cross examination.

6.2 Cross examining complaints in sexual cases.

7. Identification Evidence

7.1 Introduction and the Turnbull rules.

7.2 The rules in Code D of PACE.

8. Confessions

8.1 Introduction and defining a confession.

8.2 Oppression and admissibility.

9. Illegally, Improperly and Unfairly Obtained Evidence

9.1 The Common Law position.

9.2 Entrapment and s.78 of PACE.

9.3 Restrictions to the general position.

10. The Character of the Accused

10.1 Similar fact evidence from Makin to Boardman.

10.2 Similar fact evidence from Boardman to the present.

10.3 The Criminal Evidence Act 1898, s.1(f)(ii).

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Raymond N Emson (1999) Evidence Macmillan Law Masters
** Consult For Futher Information
Andrews & Hirst (1997) Criminal Evidence 3rd.
Blackstones Criminal Practice 2000, Section F

Criminal Law Review

** Recommended Text
Blackstone's Statutes on Evidence


This module is at CQFW Level 6