EVIDENTIARY RULES ON ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE UNDER NIGERIAN EVIDENCE ACT 2011: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Abstract
Table of Contents
Table of Cases
Table of Statutes
List of Abbreviations

CHAPTER ONE
General Introduction
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2       Statement of Problems
1.3       Aim and Objective of the Study
1.4       Justification of the Study
1.5       Scope of the Study
1.6       Research Methodology
1.7       Literature Review
1.8       Organisational Layout

CHAPTER TWO
Nature And Classification of Documentary Evidence
2.1       Introduction
2.1.2    Nature of Documentary Evidence
2.1.3    Scope of Documentary Evidence
2.1.4    Meaning of Documentary Evidence
2.1.5   Types and Classification of Documentary Evidence
2.5       Types of Primary and Secondary Documentary Evidence
2.5.1    Types of Primary Evidence
2.5.2    Document Itself as Primary Evidence
2.5.3    Document Executed in Several Parts
2.5.4    Document Executed in Counterpart
2.5.5    Document Made by Uniform Process
2.5.6    Types of Secondary Evidence
2.6       Admissibility and Weight of Evidence
2.6.1    Admissibility

CHAPTER THREE
Proof of Documentary Evidence
3.1       Introduction
3.2       Proof of Contents of Documents
3.3       Proof of Contents of Public Document
3.4       Proof of Contents of Private Document
3.5       Admissibility of Secondary Evidence
3.6       Circumstances or Conditions in Which Secondary Evidence May be Admissible in Evidence
3.7       Foundation to be Laid
3.8       Admissibility and Proper Custody of Documents
3.8.1    Admissibility
3.8.2   Custody and Production of Public Document
3.8.3   Proof of Execution of Document
3.8.4   Evidence of Handwriting
4.0       Opinion Evidence in Relation to Handwriting
4.1       Non-Expert Opinion
4.2       Expert Opinion
4.3       Evidence of Signature
4.4       Presumption as to Handwriting in Documents 20  Years Old

CHAPTER FOUR
Admissibility of Documentary Evidence Under Sections 83 And 84 of The Evidence Act, 2011
4.1       Introduction
4.2       Appraisal of the Rules on Admissibility of Documentary Evidence as to fact issue under Section 83
4.2.1   Admissibility of Documents Made By a Person in Any Proceeding
4.2.2   If  the Maker of the Document had Personal  Knowledge of the Matters Dealt With By the Statement
4.2.3   Where the Document Forms Part of the Record Purporting To Be A Continuous Record
4.2.4    If  the  Maker  of  the  Statement  is  Called  as  a  Witness  in  the  Proceeding
4.2.5    The Discretion of the Court to Admit a Statement Made by the Maker In Any Proceeding
4.2.6   The Inadmissibility of Document Made by an Interested Person When Is the Proceeding Is Pending Or Anticipated
4.2.7    Admissibility of Document Signed or Initialed By the Maker
4.2.8    Basis  for  Admissibility  of  Certificate  of  a  Registered  Medical Practitioner
5.0       Admissibility of Statement in Document Produced By Computers
5.1       Admissibility of Computer Generated Document and Conditions to be Laid
5.2       Admissibility  of  Statements  Produced  From  Different  or Combination of Computers
5.3       Basis for Admissibility of Certificate Signed By a Person In a Responsible Position
5.4       Conditions To Be Laid for an Information To Be  Duly Supplied or Produced By a Computer

CHAPTER FIVE
Summary and Conclusion
5.1       Summary
5.2       Findings
5.3       Recommendations
5.4       Conclusion
Bibliography

ABSTRACT

This Dissertation provided a critical conceptual discourse into the Evidentiary Rules On Admissibility of Documentary Evidence Under Nigerian Evidence Act 2011. It appraised the bases for the admissibility of documentary evidence, rules of evidence, relevance and conditions for the admissibility of secondary evidence, public document, proof of documentary evidence, custody and production of public documents, proof of execution of documents, admissibility of statements made in computers, and conditions for the admissibility of documentary evidence as to fact in issue. It also appraised the rules on admissibility of documentary evidence under the Nigerian Law to ascertain what factors that determine the admissibility and inadmissibility of documentary evidence and it examined the extent to which computer generated evidence is made part of admissible documentary evidence under the Evidence Act 2011. Evidence is the cornerstone of litigation and indispensable for a fair justice system in Nigeria. This dissertation therefore aimed at bringing out issues faced by the Lawyers, Courts, theorists and Students of Law relating to the admissibility of documentary evidence; solving problems faced by Students of Law and Lawyers on issues of proper foundation to be laid and the mode of tendering the documentary evidence and principally, recommending areas and manner of legal reform as to the admissibility of documentary evidence by making an exposition on a very fundamental rule on documentary evidence. The separation of section 89 and 90 of the Evidence Act and the alteration of sections in 1990 Evidence Act which has the same principles under 2011 Evidence Act, made comprehension and interpretation of above sections difficult. The five subsections in section 83 constitute a sort of nightmare to many Students of Law and even the Lawyers sometimes are confused as to the application of its provisions. Making it worse is the use of the words „provided‟, „except‟, and „unless‟. Also, in addition to the issues raised above, the failure of the Act in not defining the nature of electronic signature compounded the confusion, difficulties and obscurity of meaning of evidence it sought to enshrine, legislate or enforce and so we can only conclude that the provisions of section 83 are cumbersome and they ordinarily portend challenges to understanding and thus interpretation and would need material revision and redrafting. The legal research methodology adopted in collecting information is the doctrinal method. The doctrinal research is priori research method which involves research in text books, statute and cases. The findings of the study significantly included the difficulty which the separation of S. 89 and 90 Evidence Act posed to Students of Law, and the absence of the definition of the nature of electronic signature. It is therefore recommended that there is immediate need for legislative reform to redress the issues for proper drafting, interpretation and understanding for-instance the issues relating to the use of simple

English to replace the words „provided‟, „except‟, and „unless‟ for easy understanding.

The need for legislative amendment of S. 89 and 90 which was separated, should be redrafted under one section for easy interpretation and understanding and the amendment of Section 83(4) to provide for the nature of electronic signature for its admissibility purposes.



GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1              Background to the Study

Documentary evidence forms part of the entire gamut of the Law of Evidence. And of course, if a thing is self evident, it does not require evidence.1Section 882 provide that

“document shall be proved by primary evidence except in the cases mentioned in this Act”.

It is submitted that, documentary evidence is anything in which statement is written on, which can be on paper, electronic device, walls, trees, rocks, human body or in picture form.

Documentary evidence is one of the major recognised modes of proof. Documentary evidence is thus of such tremendous importance in Court proceedings as it is the yardstick by which the veracity of oral testimony is tested3 it is for this reason that the Law of Evidence permits trial Courts to substitute the eye for the ear in the reception of evidence when the need arises.4

Among the three modes of evidence: oral, documentary and real evidence, oral evidence seems to constitute the platform for the presentation in Court of the other two categories. Truly, it is in the course of oral testimony in Court that a document or some kind of real evidence is tendered. In spite of this, the input of documentary evidence and its significance in the modern probative process seems to almost overshadow the......

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