Legal Word of the Day: “Best Evidence Rule”

Is a recording admissible?

Is a recording admissible?

“Best Evidence Rule” – A common law rule, taken up in legislation, that applies to the admissibility and weight given to indirect evidence presented for the truth of its contents.

Madame Justice Sheila Ray defines this in R. v. Huxtable, a POA appeal.

      At p. 8: “In both civil and criminal cases, ‘the best evidence rule’ has historically been applied, when a document is adduced as evidence for the truth of its contents. The rule simply stated is that a party must produce the best evidence that the nature of a case will allow. This means that if the original document is available, it should be produced. If the original has been destroyed or is otherwise unavailable, the contents of the document can be proved by using a copy or other secondary evidence. Photocopies are acceptable if the person who made the copies testifies that they are true copies.”

And p. 13: “The use of certified copies attenuates the rigours of the ‘best evidence rule.’”

Further reading:

R. v. Huxtable, 2012 ONCJ 611 (CanLII) — 2012-10-02
In this POA case, no certified documents from the Ministry of Transportation were entered into evidence at trial showing that the appellant was the registered owner of the vehicle.

R. v. Piercey, 2012 ONCJ 500 (CanLII) — 2012-06-19
This is a ruling on admissibility of prescription receipts. The Crown relied on Sections 30 and 31.1 of the Canada Evidence Act. Defence submitted there was better evidence available.

WikiBook: Canadian Criminal Evidence – downloadable under Creative Commons License

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