Rule against hearsay


1. Section 114 The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) defines hearsay evidence as any 'statement not made in oral evidence in the proceedings.' Reliance on a statement made otherwise than while giving evidence to prove the truth of a fact asserted remains hearsay.

2. The general rule is that such a statement is inadmissible as evidence of the truth of the facts stated. 1

3. The rule applies:

  • to both examination in chief and cross-examination;
  • whether the statement was made by the witness personally or by some other person;
  • to any `out of court' statement, whether oral, written or otherwise;
  • to statements given as evidence of the truth of its contents - if the statement is given for any purpose which is relevant to the facts in issue in the case, it is admissible, for example, evidence given as to a person's state of mind, rather than what was actually said.

4. If either the prosecution or the defence want to introduce hearsay evidence, within the meaning of section 114 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, notice must be given to the court and all other parties. If a party objects to the introduction of such evidence, that party must apply to the Court to determine the objection.

5. There are strict time limits in relation to the serving of hearsay notices and applications for objection. More detail about the process can be found within Part  20 of the Criminal Procedure Rules . If you have evidence that you consider may be hearsay, you should discuss it with your line management and, if there is no Solicitor Agent instructed in your case, contact your legal liaison point for advice who may in turn contact the Legal Adviser's Office.


1. R v Sharp [1988] 1 All ER 65, HL; [1988] 1 WLR 7 at 11; Subramanian v Public Prosecutor [1956] 1 WLR 965 at 970; R v Kearley [1992] 2 WLR 656 (at 676B and E.), HL. Back

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Updated 2021-08-27