Statutory Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule
In this Chapter we shall examine a number of statutory provisions which have the effect of rendering admissible, in criminal trials on indictment, evidence which might otherwise be hearsay. Of these provisions, arguably the most important are those contained in Part II of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.1 Statutory reform of the hearsay rule in the criminal sphere has been piecemeal, and there is nothing approaching the fundamental statutory reform encapsulated in the Civil Evidence Act 1968. The provisions examined below are largely self-explanatory, and thus the aim here is not to provide a detailed description of their operation, but rather to draw attention to any relevant interpretations of the provisions in case law, as well as to highlight possible difficulties with the provisions and to assess whether the goal of ensuring the admissibility of reliable evidence, especially reliable documentary evidence, has been achieved.
At the heart of Part II of the Criminal Justice Act 19882 are sections 23 and 24, which deal respectively with first-hand documentary hearsay and with hearsay in trade, business, and related documents. It is to be noted that these provisions do not affect the admissibility of hearsay evidence which is already admissible otherwise than by virtue of these provisions.3 It is also provided that where the same expressions are used in Part II of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 as in Part II of the Civil Evidence Act 1968, these expressions are to be construed in accordance with section 10 of the latter Act.4 The Court of Appeal has emphasized 'the need for very great caution____________________