The 2012 Amendments to Singapore's Evidence Act: More Questions than Answers as Regards Expert Opionion Evidence?

Siyuan CHEN, Singapore Management University


Singapore amended the expert opinion evidence provisions in its Evidence Act (EA) in 2012. The criteria for admissibility have been broadened, but the courts are now also expressly given the discretion to exclude relevant expert opinion evidence if it is ‘in the interests of justice’. This article explains why the 2012 amendments have raised more questions than answered them. First, Parliament did not appear to have properly appreciated the distinction—as conceptualised by the EA—between legal and logical relevance and relevance and admissibility. Second, it did not appear to have appreciated the distinction between general and specific relevance. Third, the introduction of the judicial discretion is a concept that neither comports with the common law position nor coheres with the EA. Fourth, whether there should have been continued applicability of the ‘ultimate issue rule’ could have been clarified. At bottom, Parliament did not demonstrate a keen understanding of the conceptualisation, structure, and principles of the antiquated EA. A framework for determining relevance and admissibility of evidence that is in accordance with the EA is thus proposed. As a number of Commonwealth jurisdictions share similar legislation to the EA, this article may be of interest to such jurisdictions as well.