Admissibility of bad character as important explanatory evidence
Admissibility of bad character as important explanatory evidence

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Admissibility of bad character as important explanatory evidence
  • Criminal Justice Act 2003
  • What is 'important explanatory evidence'?
  • Guidance on the correct approach to gateway C

Criminal Justice Act 2003

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) permits the admission of bad character evidence if it is 'important explanatory evidence'.

The statutory provisions are known as gateway C.

Gateway C is not restricted to prosecution evidence.

However, this gateway (and other statutory gateways) only applies if the evidence falls within the definition of 'bad character' set out in the CJA 2003.

For example, in R v Osbourne it was held that evidence that the defendant would sometimes be aggressive and shout when he had not taken his medication was not evidence of 'bad character' within the meaning of the CJA 2003 and had been wrongly admitted in evidence.

See Practice Note: Admissibility of defendant's bad character in criminal proceedings—What is bad character?

What is 'important explanatory evidence'?

'Important explanatory evidence' means evidence without which

  1. it would be impossible or difficult to understand other evidence in the case, and

  2. its value for understanding the evidence as a whole is substantial


A simple example of 'important explanatory evidence', cited by the Court of Appeal in R v D and others, is where the defendant was in prison or police custody or where the case involved alleged revenge for a supposed wrong done in the course of a previous criminal venture.

Whether evidence can be admitted as 'important explanatory evidence' will