The aim of the module is to present a clear picture of the process and procedure involved in the presentation of evidence in trials in England and Wales. In achieving this aim, the module examines the process of gathering evidence, the admissibility of such evidence and the ability to use such evidence in reaching decisions, primarily within the criminal justice systems but also, on occasions, in civil hearings. The module is a very practical one; examining why the law of evidence has evolved as it has. Questions include:
Can previous criminal convictions of either the defendant or a witness be presented to the court?
Can the spouse of a defendant be compelled to give evidence against his/her accused spouse?
What is the relevancy of purely circumstantial evidence?
How are vulnerable witnesses, such as rape complainants or child victims protected by the court system?
Can an illegally obtained confession be used in court?
Can an illegally obtained murder weapon be evidence in court?
What is the best way to represent your accused client when his/her coaccused throws all the blame onto him/her?
The module builds upon knowledge already gained in a number of other substantive law modules, in particular the law of torts and criminal law, and complements such modules as civil liberties, criminology and corporate crime. Many wouldbe lawyers will find the module very useful for practice, although it has a very strong bias towards the criminal evidence rules it also indicates the more simplified civil law rules.
Relevance and Admissibility; Burden of Proof
Witnesses: Competence and Compellability
Witness Evidence and Examination
Evidence of a Complainant in a Sexual Offence Case
Bad Character of the Defendant
Hearsay inc. Confessions; Silence and defendant's lies
Objectives of the Module
To understand the historical rules governing the admission of evidence in order to be able to reason what further changes are needed to the law.
To reason why we have rules of evidence and assess the efficacy of the current rules for achieving justice and a fair trial.
Know the most important cases and statutes in the area and understand their contribution to the subject.
Learn and understand how the rules and procedures fit together in order to be able to apply them in practice.
- Module Supervisor: Karen Brennan