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LA3007

Evidence

Module information>

Academic Direction
Laws Consortium
Modes of Study
Online

The law of 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.

Evidence is offered as an optional module to students studying on the Standard Entry and Graduate Entry LLB courses. It is also offered as an Individual Module. Students taking Evidence as an Individual Module are advised that prior knowledge of Criminal law is desirable. Credits from an Individual Module will not count towards the requirements of the LLB. 

Evidence rules govern what evidence may be presented and contested in the courtroom, as well as the inferences that may properly be drawn from it and any guidance that must given in relation to such inferences 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.

Topics covered 

  • Foundational concepts of relevance, admissibility and weight. Theoretical and procedural context for rules of evidence. 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 in criminal and civil proceedings, including sufficiency of a case to answer. 
  • Confessions and improperly obtained evidence. 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 concerning defendants and non-defendants. 
  • The rule against hearsay. The definition of hearsay. The rule (its definition, scope and rationale). 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. Dangers and reforms to ameliorate associated risks.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the module 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; 
  • In relation to the various forms of evidence and exclusionary rules specified in the module syllabus, construct an argument for or against the relevance of a particular piece of evidence and construct an argument for or against its admissibility and construct an argument in favour of and against a submission of no case to answer based upon such evidence or combination of evidence; 
  • In relation to the various forms of evidence and exclusionary rules specified in the module syllabus, explain and critically evaluate judicial warnings to the jury and judicial rulings on submissions of no case to answer and on applications for inclusion or exclusion of evidence.
  • Analyse and interpret complex legal concepts and apply them in factual scenarios; 
  • Articulate well-argued potential solutions to a range of complex evidential topics (such as the challenges posed by expert scientific evidence); 
  • Reflect on learning, identifying areas for improvement; 
  • Evaluate legal issues (such as the right to silence or the admissibility of sexual history evidence or bad character evidence) in a social context taking account of their policy and doctrinal importance. 

Assessment 

4hr 15 mins unseen examination

Essential reading 

  • Choo, A. Evidence. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021) sixth edition [ISBN 9780198864172]. 
  • Durston, G. Evidence: text and materials. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) second edition [ISBN 9780199583607].