THE LAW OF EVIDENCE

SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3M225724
Module Leader Andrew Tickell
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Law
Trimesters
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

This module introduces the law of evidence in Scotland, including the principal legal rules regulating the relevance, admissibility and competence of evidence in legal proceedings. In addition, this module examines contemporary criminological issues in the law of evidence which impinge on the application of the rules relating to the proof of facts in both civil and criminal cases in Scotland, including the doctrine of corroboration, rape shield legislation, legal provision for vulnerable witnesses and the regulation of the use of covert surveillance technologies in the context of criminal investigations and prosecutions. This module will also put the Scots law of evidence in its international context, by considering the approaches taken to the law of evidence by other jurisdictions and in international criminal proceedings including the International Criminal Court, and other ad hoc international criminal tribunals.

Syllabus

The principles of the law of evidence, comprising in particular: -360 The relevance, admissibility, weight and sufficiency of evidence; Burdens of proof and standards of proof; Types of evidence, including direct, real and documentary; Witnesses, including concepts of competence, compellability, and vulnerability; Privilege and immunity; Corroboration and its exceptions, including special-knowledge confessions, corroboration by distress, the Moorov doctrine, the Howden doctrine; Admissions and confessions; Illegally obtained evidence, including the legal regulation of surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources; Character evidence, including the specialities of rape shield legislation; The rule against hearsay; Opinion and expert evidence; Presumptions of law and fact; Res judicata; Judicial knowledge and judicial admissions; The conduct of a trial or proof; and Critical comparison of the law of evidence applicable in Scotland with the approaches of other national and international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court and other ad hoc international criminal tribunals.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:1.Evaluate and apply the rules relating to the relevance and admissibility of evidence in Scotland;2.Identify and synthesise the legal issues arising in practical problems;3.Appraise and synthesise legal concepts so as to construct a persuasive argument using recognised legal sources in justifying their application to a given set of facts;4.Understand and critically evaluate the implications of the law of evidence in its social context;5.Communicate confidently with legal experts on a range of evidence-related legal matters;6.Update their acquired knowledge in order to keep pace with changes in relevant areas of law; and7.Identify and retrieve up to date legal information using paper and electronic repositories; use primary and secondary legal sources which are relevant to the topic under study and current at the point of assessment; present knowledge and information using sources to support arguments and conclusions; provide recognised methods of citation and reference.Identify accurately and formulate clearly the legal issues to be researched; undertake independent research (both paper-based and electronic) in areas of law which have not been previously studied, using paper and electronic repositories to research new topics without reference to a reading list.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be delivered via a combination of lectures, seminars and directed learning. Students will attend one compulsory two hour lecture per week, supported by weekly seminars over the course of the teaching term. Lectures will commence in week one, and seminars in week two. Lectures will concentrate on introducing students to the substantive legal concepts of the law of evidence. Seminars will focus either on: -360 applying these legal concepts to practical legal problems; or analysing and critically reflecting on the policy implications of rules of evidence in the social context of the Scottish justice system, including the investigation and prosecution of crime. Students will be expected to consider prescribed cases, social research, and policy papers reading prior to seminars, so as to be able to discuss the issues raised. The two elements of assessment in this module are aligned to these two themes, of (a) applying the law of evidence to practical legal problems and (b) thinking critically about the merits and demerits of the current law of evidence. CW1 (60%, 2,500 words) will assess students' knowledge and ability to apply the law of evidence by requiring them to analyse a case file in a hypothetical case. Compiled of witness statements and diverse adminicles of evidence, students will be required to review the dossier of evidence from the perspective of a lawyer involved in the case, and will be required to identify, critically and comment on analyse all the law of evidence issues arising from a very complex series of facts. CW2 will focus on a critical analysis of the underlying philosophical, political and policy issues raised by the law of evidence. It is envisaged this element of assessment, where possible, will focus on contemporary public debates on the shape of the law of evidence, such as corroboration repeal, or vulnerable witness reform.

Indicative Reading

Key sources: E Keane and D Scullion (2018) Evidence: Principles, Policy and Practice 3 rd edn (Edinburgh, W Green) J P Chalmers (2017) Scottish Evidence Law Essentials 4 th edn (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press) M L Ross and J P Chalmers (2015) Walker and Walker: The Law of Evidence in Scotland 4 th edn (London, Bloomsbury Professional) D Nicolson (2019) Evidence and Proof in Scotland: Context and Critique (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press) Key online sources Primary law of evidence legislation <http://www.legislation.gov.uk/> Law of evidence case law accessible via: -360b7 The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BaILII): <http://www.bailii.org/> b7 LexisNexis and Westlaw legal databases (accessible via GCULibrary). The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA) <http://www.law.ox.ac.uk/publications/oscola.php>

Transferrable Skills

Analysis, Synthesis, Critical Judgement and Evaluation The ability to identify issues, assimilate, evaluate and analyse information to construct written or oral solutions to a problem by bringing together and integrating relevant information, and selecting key material, from a variety of different sources. The ability to present arguments for and against propositions, acknowledging ranking of sources and relative impact in context. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: -360 Preparing for and participating in lectures and seminars Preparing for and delivering group and individual responses in lectures and seminars Preparing for and delivering critical essay and case file analysis. Personal Management, Independence and Ability to Learn The ability to organise and prioritise effectively the expenditure of time and effort in the performance of all aspects of student work. The ability to learn effectively and be aware of their own learning strategies; to manage their own learning development and to reflect upon their learning, seeking and making use of feedback. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: -360 Preparing the individual critical esaay and case file analysis Consolidating material delivered at lectures and seminars and connecting them to individual case study Supplementing delivered material with additional reading Reflecting on lecture, handout and self-searched material Preparing for and participating in group meetings and other group activities Preparing for and participating in lectures and seminars Preparing for and delivering critical essay and casefile analysis. Communication and Literacy The ability to communicate information, ideas, advice and choices in an effective and succinct manner and in plain English without losing focus on key issues. The ability to listen and question effectively, to give and receive feedback and to make presentations addressing an allocated topic within the prescribed time frame. The ability to communicate both orally and in writing (and, where appropriate, by the use of electronic means) using the English language accurately by creating work which is comprehensible to the intended audience. The ability to create documents which are analytical, descriptive and inquisitive using appropriate terminology and recognised methods of citation and reference. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: -360 Consolidating material delivered at lectures and seminars Supplementing delivered material with additional reading Reflecting on lecture, handout and self-searched material Preparing for and participating in group meetings and other group activities Preparing for and delivering individual coursework and casefile analysis Reflecting on feedback from individual coursework and casefile analysis. Numeracy, Information, Technology and Teamwork Where relevant and as the basis for an argument, the ability to present and evaluate information provided in numerical or statistical form. The ability to produce and present in an appropriate form a word-processed essay or other appropriate format. The ability to conduct efficient searches of websites to locate relevant information; and exchange documents by email. The ability to work productively and cooperatively in different kinds of groups; to establish working relations with others, defining, sharing and delegating responsibilities within the group. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: -360 Consolidating material delivered at lectures and seminars Supplementing delivered material with additional reading Preparing for and participating in group meetings and other group activities Preparing for and delivering individual coursework and casefile analysis.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 114.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Assessment (FT) 50.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 60.00 35% Law of evidence case file (2500 words).
Course Work 02 n/a 40.00 35% Critical essay (1500 words).