By now you are probably starting to get further into the details of the various subject areas, including one of Helen’s favourites, Criminal Litigation. Whilst Criminal Advocacy was probably slightly more enjoyable – after all, who doesn’t enjoy a cross-examination that has gone well? – it was the Litigation module that provided the framework and safeguard against an accidental ‘red-flag’ error in the Advocacy exam. With that in mind, this week is a quick canter through what is and is not hearsay.
Emily found that identifying hearsay seemed as though it should be obvious at first, but actually applying the test to specific scenarios took a while to get the hang of. But once you have got the hang of the test, it really is simple.
You really do need to get your head into your practitioner text of choice (either Blackstone’s or Archbold) to understand the detail here, but broadly speaking you need to remember to systematically ask four questions (all four must be met in order to have hearsay – if it fails one of them, it is not hearsay):
Identifying what is and is not hearsay is only the first step. If it is hearsay, there are still a number of exceptions which can allow its inclusion in criminal proceedings. They, however, are a (rather large) topic in their own right.