UNFAIRLY OBTAINED EVIDENCE: EXPLORING THE BALANCE BETWEEN DEFENDANTS’ RIGHTS AND THE INTERESTS OF JUSTICE

Victoria Sutton

Abstract


 

Unfairly obtained evidence is any prosecution evidence that has been obtained in a questionable manner. Courts have the power and discretion to exclude such evidence under both case law and statute. The most important case regarding unfairly obtained evidence is R v Sang (1980), which ruled that a judge can exclude trial evidence if its prejudicial value outweighs its probative value. Following this was the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which is concerned with the fairness of the proceedings, with section 78(1) being specific to unfairly obtained evidence. The European Convention on Human Rights also plays an important role, in particular Article 6 (the right to a fair trial), and Article 8 (the right to privacy). However, for evidence to be ruled inadmissible there needs to be significant and substantial breaches to these Acts. Despite this protection for the defendant, the fact evidence may not be automatically ruled inadmissible even if there are breaches in PACE or the European Convention of Human Rights seems to favour the criminal justice system. Therefore, this article aims to determine whether English Law benefits the right of the defendant in trial proceedings, or simply ensures greater fairness.


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