The law of hearsay

As every student of Scots law knows, Section 2 of the Civil Evidence (Scotland) Act 1988 allows for the admissibility of hearsay evidence in civil cases: “evidence shall not be excluded solely on the ground that it is hearsay”.

According to the Scottish Law Commission, the position was as follows:

The rule against hearsay is, broadly speaking, to the effect that statements made other than by a witness giving evidence in court are not admissible. The rule extends both to verbal statements and to written statements …


However, I prefer the illustration given in Gilbert & Sullivan‘s Iolanthe, in the following exchange between Arcadian shepherd Strephan, and the (highly susceptible) Lord Chancellor (pictured above):

Lord Ch. No. It’s a nice point. I don’t know that I ever met it before. But my difficulty is that at present there’s no evidence before the Court that chorused Nature has interested herself in the matter.
Streph. No evidence! You have my word for it. I tell you that she bade me take my love.
Lord Ch. Ah! But, my good sir, you mustn’t tell us what she told you – it’s not evidence. Now an affidavit from a thunderstorm, or a few words on oath from a heavy shower, would meet with all the attention they deserve.
Streph. And have you the heart to apply the prosaic rules of evidence to a case which bubbles over with poetical emotion?
Lord Ch. Distinctly. I have always kept my duty strictly before my eyes, and it is to that fact that I owe my advancement to my present distinguished position.

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1 Response to The law of hearsay

  1. Chelsey Watson says:

    I enjoyed reading over this. The quote is good for essays when discussing the law regulating hearsay.

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