Computer Generated Evidence In Court



Introduction
We are living in what is usually described as an 'information society' and as
the business community makes ever greater use of computers the courts are going
to find that increasingly the disputes before them turn on evidence which has at
some stage passed through or been processed by a computer. In order to keep in
step with this practice it is vital that the courts are able to take account of
such evidence. As the Criminal Law Revision Committee recognised, 'the
increasing use of computers by the Post Office, local authorities, banks and
business firms to store information will make it more difficult to prove certain
matters such as cheque card frauds, unless it is possible ...

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Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 (see further
Nyssens 1993, Reed 1993 and Tapper 1993).

In general the principles of admissibility are that the evidence must be
relevant to the proof of a fact in issue, to the credibility of a witness or to
the reliability of other evidence, and the evidence must not be inadmissible by
virtue of some particular rule of law (Keane 1994, pp 15-20; Tapper 1990, pp 51-
61).

Real evidence usually takes the form of some material object (including computer
output) produced for inspection in order that the court may draw an inference
from its own observation as to the existence, condition or value of the object
in question. Although real evidence may be extremely valuable as a means of
proof, little if any weight attaches to it unless accompanied by testimony which
identifies the object in question and explains its connection with, or
significance in relation to, the facts in issue or relevant to the issue.

This is illustrated in the case of R v Wood ...

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statement (oral or
documentary), cannot be tested by cross-examination. (1) The problem, however,
occurs because some statements, although in form assertive and inadmissible if
they were to originate in the minds of human beings, in fact originate in some
purely mechanical function of a machine and can be used circumstantially to
prove what they appear to assert.

The basis for this view was laid down in a case having little to do with
computers. In the Statute of Liberty [1968] 2 All ER 195 a collision occurred
between two vessels on the Thames estuary. The estuary was monitored by radar
and a film of the radar traces was admitted into evidence. Simon P rejected the
argument that the ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 6/10/2006 09:58:00 AM
Category: Legal Issues
Type: Free Paper
Words: 4698
Pages: 18

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