In many jurisdictions, the rules of evidence can often be instrumental in determining the outcome of a dispute. But to what extent can evidence law be controlled by codification, or is it better to leave its regulation and development to the judges via common law? In an attempt to bridge the gap between the rules of an antiquated evidence statute and the modern realities of practice, Singapore’s Evidence Act was amended in 2012. Certain relevancy provisions were amended to allow greater admissibility of evidence, while new provisions were introduced to act as a check against abuse. However, it will be argued that these amendments have changed the paradigm of the admissibility of evidence under the statute and have also done little to clarify existing ambiguities in the law. This paper explains why and, given the near-complete absence of case law that has interpreted the amendments, offers a few tentative suggestions on possible ways forward. To the extent that Singapore’s Evidence Act was largely modelled after Stephen’s Indian Evidence Act of 1872, Singapore’s 2012 amendments may be of comparative interest to readers in a number of jurisdictions around the world particularly those in Asia such as Bangladesh, Brunei, Burma, Malaysia and Sri Lanka – these countries had adopted the iconic statute to varying degrees – and of course, to India itself. Many of these jurisdictions have also not made major amendments to their evidence legislation, and therefore there may be something to learn ahead of time from Singapore’s experiment.
Indian evidence act, exclusionary discretion, relevance and admissibility, Singapore evidence law
Asian Studies | Comparative and Foreign Law | Evidence
Law, Society and Governance
International Commentary on Evidence
Redefining Relevancy and Exclusionary Discretion in Sir James Fitzjames Stephen’s Indian Evidence Act of 1872: The Singapore Experiment and Lessons for Other Indian Evidence Act Jurisdictions. (2014). International Commentary on Evidence. 10, (1), 1-53. Research Collection School Of Law.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/sol_research/1319
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