The Hearsay Rule Essay Research Paper In

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The Hearsay Rule Essay, Research Paper In Myers v. DPP [1965] the accused faced several charges of receiving stolen cars. The prosecution case was that wrecked cars and their log books had been bought at a very low price and then cars of the same type had been stolen, passed off and sold as the legitimately bought cars. The prosecution were allowed to establish that the cars were stolen by calling employees of the car manufacturers, and these witnesses produced microfilm records (photographs of the written record compiled by anonymous workmen on the production line) purporting to show, the cylinder block numbers which had been indelibly stamped on the engine and contemporaneously recorded during the manufacturing process. The majority of the House of Lords held that the

evidence had been wrongly admitted on the ground that the hearsay rule was absolute unless an exception applied. The list of common-law exceptions was closed, and the mere fact hearsay evidence was highly reliable was not of itself any reason to admit it in the absence of an established exception. No matter how cogent particular evidence may seem to be, unless it comes within a class, which is admissible, it is excluded. The technical nature of the hearsay rule has created difficulties for the courts. If highly reliable and probative evidence falls within the scope of the exclusionary rule it is inadmissible unless a common-law or statutory exception can be found to justify its admission. In the absence of any such inclusionary exception the courts must either exclude the

evidence or find a way of side-stepping the hearsay rule. This side-stepping has been effected in two ways. First, the courts have been willing to redefine evidence so that it is not caught by the exclusionary rule at all, and this has led to anomalous cases where what appears to be hearsay has been classified as something else. Secondly, where it has been thought inappropriate to redefine an item of obvious hearsay evidence as non-hearsay the courts have ignored the hearsay problem altogether or broadened an existing exception so that the evidence can be brought within its scope. A written entry in a record which a party relies on for the purpose of proving the truth of the matter recorded obviously falls within the scope of the hearsay rule, and logically the same should be

true for the absence of an entry if it too amounts to an assertion of fact. If a teacher places a tick next to the name of any students who are present and makes no mark next to the names of absent students, the absence of a tick amounts to an assertion of fact (’this student was absent on this date’) just as much as the tick (’this student was present on this date’) and as such both should be covered by the hearsay rule. However the Court of Appeal has decided differently. In R v. Patel (1981) the accused faced a charge of assisting the illegal entry into the UK of a third party, a Mr Ashraf, and the prosecution called an immigration officer to prove that Ashraf was an illegal entrant. The immigration officer was allowed to rely on Home Office records he had previously

examined and gave evidence that Ashraf´s name was not recorded as a person entitled to a certificate of registration in the UK. Although Patel’s conviction was quashed on appeal, on account of the immigration officer’s reliance on hearsay evidence, the Court of Appeal went on to intimate that it would have been permissible for the officer responsible for the compilation and custody of the records to give evidence that the method of compilation and custody was such that if Ashraf’s name was not there he must be an illegal entrant. The Court of Appeal did not explain why the evidence would not be hearsay merely because it was given by one type of officer rather than another, but the dictum was considered with approval in R v. Shone (1982). In this case the accused was