This book has been written in an effort to simplify, and record concisely, the main rules and principles of the law of evidence. It is an attempt to explain the basic concepts of evidence to the law student. At the same time, it is an effort to provide the practitioner with a simple and accessible catalogue of the authority that is most frequently needed in the conduct of trials or hearings. We are pleased that this work has been adapted by the National Judicial Institute as the "bench book" that has been distributed to judges of all courts across Canada to assist in their evidentiary rulings.
In an effort to simplify the law of evidence, we have chosen to reduce the most important rules into proposition form. These propositions or statements of law can be found italicized throughout the text above the discussions to which they relate. We are aware that there will occasionally be controversy over the proper statement of rules of law and that the law of evidence has proven particularly resistant to efforts at codification. We are nonetheless of the view that our efforts at stating the law in clear terms can be of value to both students and practitioners by simplifying and focusing the discussion. Where major controversies exist, we have attempted to note them. We have also used many examples in an effort to illustrate the operation of the rules.
In this sixth edition, we have adhered to the organizational plan that we adopted for the first five editions. The general concepts of the law of evidence are introduced in chapter 1. The introduction supplies an opportunity to describe generally the function of the law of evidence, to make observations about the trend in recent authority, and to present foundational material that should assist in understanding the discussions contained in the main body of the work.
Chapters 2 through 9 deal with the rules of admissibility. The methods of presenting evidence, which might appear to come logically before the rules of admissibility, have been relegated to chapter 10. We felt it preferable to acquaint the uninitiated with what kind of information can be presented, before describing how it can be presented. Chapter 12 deals with rules relating to the use that the trier of fact can make of admissible evidence. The conclusions, which are found in chapter 13, provide a general thematic discussion of the forces that have moved the law of evidence and that will continue to do so in the foreseeable future....