Hearsay evidence in civil litigation

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Hearsay evidence in civil litigation
  • What is hearsay evidence?
  • Use of hearsay evidence
  • Rules relating to specific documents
  • Documents excepted from the hearsay rule
  • Business and public records
  • Office copies of the land register
  • Plans, photographs and models
  • Covert recordings
  • How to give notice of using hearsay evidence
  • More...

Hearsay evidence in civil litigation

This Practice Note provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the CPR. Depending on the court in which your matter is proceeding, you may also need to be mindful of additional provisions—see further Court specific guidance below.

This Practice Note explains hearsay evidence under CPR 33 and the Civil Evidence Act 1995 (CEA 1995), including what it means, its use and rules relating to specific types of documents, and those documents exempt from the hearsay rule. It looks at the notice procedure required if you are planning to use hearsay evidence, and what to do if served with a hearsay notice under rule 33.2 of the CPR. The court’s approach to hearsay evidence, including the weight to be given to hearsay evidence, are also explored together with the extent to which cross-examination of hearsay evidence is allowed under rule 33.4.

What is hearsay evidence?

Hearsay is ‘a statement made otherwise than by a person while giving oral evidence in proceedings which is tendered as evidence of the matters stated’, as defined in both CEA 1995, s 1(2) and CPR 33.1.

The rules in relation to hearsay evidence are contained in CEA 1995 and CPR 33. The CEA 1995 is replicated in Practice Direction 33.

Examples of what constitutes hearsay evidence include:

  1. A gives evidence by way of witness statement

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