Expert & Opinion Evidence Law and Reliable Evidence

Question 1: Critically discuss whether the law governing expert and opinion evidence ensures that juries are presented with reliable evidence from professional witnesses.

There is no doubt that witnesses play a vital role in the legal process as they provide opinion or factual evidence. A court or jury may admit and rely on professional or expert evidence to decide a matter before it in some cases. Hackman, Raiit and Black (2016), define a professional witness as any person who owing to their direct professional involvement in the fact of a case, can present to a court an account of those facts. This essentially implies that a professional witness is a witness of fact who has professional qualification. Factual evidence from a professional witness is always admitted when the court has to decide on an issue whose facts are in question. Even so, a professional witness of fact may be asked by the court or an advocate to elucidate the reasoning underlying their actions or findings. Read More … (Expert and Opinion Evidence Law and Reliable Evidence from Professionals).

Question 2: “The provisions on bad character evidence introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 merely ensure that the ‘usual suspects’ are at greater risk of conviction, and do little to serve the interests of justice”. Critically evaluate the extent to which this statement is accurate.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced far reaching changes to the admissibility of evidence in relation to character.  As noted by Tandy (2009), the Act abolished the common law rules that governed the admissibility of evidence of character in criminal cases. Before its enactment, the common law system was greatly reluctant to admit evidence of the criminal record of a defendant. The system was governed by the law on similar fact evidence as noted by Culberg (2009), and regulated by several cases including DPP v P [1991][1]. Read more

[1] DPP v P [1991] 2 AC 447


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