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1. Apart from depositions and statements, all other documentary or real evidence should be exhibited in a statement. This means that each document should be formally produced into evidence by a witness. Each exhibit should be identified, using the initials of the person making the statement and consecutive numbering within the statement, for example, “I produce a sketch plan marked EF1”.
2. All of the original statements and exhibits should be made available to the court in the event of a trial. It should be noted that an original exhibit may be required to be examined by the defence, or by a defence or prosecution expert, to enable them to form an opinion. See also the section Expert evidence.
3. There are strict rules for producing documents and real evidence (material objects) in court. However, if the evidence is uncontentious, you may consider asking the defence to agree to their being relied on in court without being formally produced.
4. The use of copy documents is permitted in criminal proceedings, provided they are authenticated to the court’s satisfaction1. In most cases, therefore, copy documents, properly authenticated and exhibited by an appropriate witness, are likely to be sufficient for evidential purposes. It is immaterial how many ‘removes’ there are between an original and a copy. See Evidence that may assist your investigation for further guidance on the use of original and copy documents in evidence.
5. Copyright is not infringed by using photocopies of documents in court. 2
6. A copy of any material registered at Companies House, certified by the Registrar as a true copy, is admissible in evidence in all legal proceedings.3
7. If there is doubt whether a signed or handwritten document is authentic, proof may be provided by the testimony of:
8. If such a document is proved (or purports) to be more than 20 years old, it is presumed to have been properly executed.4
9. Documentary evidence will normally include documents obtained from the defendant. These should be produced as exhibits in a statement by a witness who can give evidence as to their contents.
10. Alternatively, the inspector who obtained the documents may exhibit them to his/her statement, giving the circumstances in which the documents were obtained. Production of the documents in this way will not infringe the Rule against hearsay provided the prosecution only seeks to rely on the statement to prove that the documents were obtained from the defendant in the circumstances described (rather than to prove the truth of the contents of the documents).
11. Reference by experts to documents that show the standards that a defendant should have achieved (e.g. EN/BS Standards, Approved Codes of Practice and other published guidance) is dealt with in the sections Expert evidence and Exceptions to the hearsay rule. Where these documents form part of a body of expertise in the expert's field, s/he may refer to them in order to support his/her opinion without infringing the rules against hearsay.5
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