Evidence Act

Link to law: http://laws.gov.ag/acts/chapters/cap-155.pdf
Published: 0000

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Evidence (CAP. 155 1

CHAPTER 155

T H E EVIDENCE ACT

Arrangement of Sections
Section

Short title.
Interpretation.
Witnesses not deemed incapacitated from crime or

interest.
Parties to any suit in a Court of Justice competent and

compellable to give evidence.
Accused parties not competent or compellable to

criminate themselves.
Person charged and wife or husband a competent

witness.
When wife or husband may be called without consent

of person charged.
A husband or wife not compelled to disclose communica-

tions made to each other.
A witness in case of adultery not bound to answer

criminating questions.
Breach of promise of marriage.
Inspections of documents.
Documents, admissible in England, admissible in

Antigua and Barbuda.
Facts of which judicial notice is to be taken.
How far a party may discredit his own witness.
Proof of contradictory statements of adverse witness.
Cross-examination as to previous statements in writing.
Proof of previous conviction of a witness may be given.
Attesting witness need not be called except in certain

cases.
Comparison of disputed writing.
False evidence how punishable.
Where necessary to prove conviction or acquittal of

person charged, certified copy of record sufficient.

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2 CAP. 155) Evidence

Examined or certified copies of documents admissible
in evidence.

Certifying a false document a misdemeanour.
Court or person authorized to hear evidence may

administer oath.
Deeds may be proved before British Consuls, &c.
Orders and commissions for the examination of

witnesses.
Attendance of persons to be examined as witnesses.
Persons authorized to examine witnesses.
Special report of persons authorized to examine

witnesses.
Costs.
Examinations not to be read in evidence except the

witness is unable to attend personally.
Bringing up a prisoner to give evidence.
SCHEDULE.

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Evidence (CAP. 155 3

EVIDENCE

(25th April, 1876.)

S.R.O. 2211956.

1. This Act may be cited as the Evidence Act. Short title.

2. In this Act- Interpretation.

"indictable offence" means any offence for which the
party charged is to be tried, or is in the course of
being tried, in any Superior Criminal Court of
Antigua and Barbuda.

3. No person, offered as a witness, shall hereafter be E i z ~ not
excluded, by reason of incapacity from crime or interest, incapacitated
from giving evidence either in person or by deposition, ~ ~ t , ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Or
according to the practice of the Court, on the trial of any
issue joined, or of any matter or question, or any inquiry,
arising in any Court, or before any .Judge, jury, Coroner,
~ a ~ i i t r a t e , dfficer, or person havihfby jaw, or by consent
of parties, authority to hear, receive, and examine evidence;
bu; every person, so offered, may and shall be admitted to
give evidence on oath, or solemn affirmation in those cases
wherein affirmation mav bv law be receivable. notwith- , ,
standing that such person may or shall have an interest in
the matter in question, or in the event of the trial of any
issue, matter, question, or inquiry, or of the suit, action,
or proceeding, in which he is offered as a witness, and not-
withstanding that such person offered may have been
previously convicted of any crime or offence.

4. O n the trial of any issue, or of any matter or Parties to any
suit in a court of

question, or on any inquiry arising in any suit, action, or Just;,e
other proceeding, in any Court of Justice, or before any and compellable

to give evidence.
person having by law, or by consent of parties, authority
to hear, receive and examine evidence, the parties thereto,
and the person in whose behalf any such suit, action, or other
proceeding may be brought or defended, as also their
husbands or wives, shall, except as hereinafter excepted, be

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

4 CAP. 155) Evidence

competent and compellable to give evidence, either viv6 uoce
or by deposition, according to the practice of the Court, on
behalf of either or any of the parties to the said suit, action,
or other proceeding.

Accused parties
not competent or

5 . Nothing herein contained shall render any person,
compellable to who, in any criminal proceeding, is charged with the com-
criminate
themselves.

mission of any indictable offence, or any offence punishable
on summary conviction, competent or compellable to give
evidence for or against himself or herself, or shall render
any person comp~llable to answer any question tending to
criminate himself or herself, or shall, in any criminal pro-
ceeding, render any husband competent or compellable to
give evidence for or against his wife, or any wife competent,
or compellable, to give evidence for or against her husband.

Person charged
and wife or

6. Every person charged with an offence and the wife
husband a or husband, as the case may be, of the person so charged,
competent
witness.

shall be a competent witness for the defence, at every stage
of the proceedings, whether the person so charged is charged
solely or jointly with any other person:

Provided as follows-

(a) A person so charged shall not be called as a
witness in pursuance of this Act except upon his own
application.

(b) The failure of any person charged with an
offence or of the wife, or husband, as the case may be,
of the person so charged, to give evidence, shall not
be made the subject of any comment by the prosecution.

(c) The wife or husband of the person charged shall
not, save as in this Act mentioned, be called as a witness
in pursuance of this Act except upon the application
of the person so charged.

(d) A person charged and being a witness in
pursuance of this Act may be asked any question in
cross-examination notwithstanding that it would tend
to criminate him as to the offence charged.

(e) A person charged and called as a witness in
pursuance of this Act shall not be asked, and if asked
shall not be required to answer any question tending
to show that he has committed, or been convicted of,

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Evidence (CAP. 155

or been charged with, any offence other than that
wherewith he is then charged, or is of bad character,
unless-

(i) the proof that he has committed or been con-
victed of such other offence is admissible
evidence to show that he is guilty of the offence
wherewith he is then charged; or

(ii) he has personally or by his advocate asked
questions of the witnesses for the prosecution
with a view to establish his own good character,
or has given evidence of his good character
or the nature or conduct of the defence is such
as to involve imputations on the character of
the prosecutor or the witnesses for the prosecu-
tion; or

(iii) he has given evidence against any other person
charged with the same offence.

(j) Every person called as a witness in pursuance
of this section shall, unless otherwise ordered by the
Court, give his evidence from the witness box or other
place from which the other witnesses give their evidence.

(g) Nothing in this section shall affect the provi-
sions of sections 47 and 56 of the Magistrate's Code
of Procedure Act, or any right of the person charged Cap. 255.
to make a statement without being sworn.

7. (1) The wife or husband of a person charged with When wife or
husband may be

an offence under any enactment mentioned in the Schedule called without
may be called as a witness either for the prosecution or p

erson

defence and without the consent of the person charged.

(2) Nothing in this Act shall affect a case where the wife
or husband of a person charged with an offence may at com-
mon law be called as a witness without the consent of that
person.

8. NO husband shall be compelled to disclose any ii;;ktnd or
communication made to him by his wife during the marriage, to
nor shall any wife be compellable to disclose any communica- disclose communications
tion made to her by her husband during the marriage. made to each

other.

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CAP. 155) Evidence

A witness in case
of adultery not
bound to answer
criminating
questions.

Breach of
promise of
marriage.

Inspection of
documents.

Documents
admissible in
England,
admissible in
Antigua and
Barbuda.

Facts of which
judicial notice is
to be taken.

F.A. 1511954.
611955.

9. No witness in any cause or other proceeding
instituted in consequence of adultery, whether a party to the
suit or not, shall be liable to be asked, or bound to answer,
any question tending to show that he or she has been guilty
of adultery, unless such witness shall have already given
evidence, in the same proceeding, in disproof of his or her
alleged adultery.

10. No plaintiff in any action for breach of promise
of marriage shall recover a verdict, unless his or her testimony
shall be corroborated by some other material evidence in
support of such promise.

1 . Whenever any action, or other legal proceeding,
shall henceforth be pending in any Court within Antigua
and Barbuda, such Court and any Judge thereof may, respec-
tively, on application made for such purpose by either of
the litigants, compel the opposite party to allow the party
making the application to inspect all documents in the
custody, or under the control, of such opposite party, relating
to such action, or other legal proceeding; and, if necessary,
to take examined copies of the same in all cases in which,
previous to the passing of this Act, a discovery might have
been obtained by filing a bill, or by any other proceeding
in a Court of Equity, at the instance of the party so making
application as aforesaid to the said Court or Judge.

12. Every document, which, by any law now in force,
or hereinafter to be in force, is or shall be admissible in
evidence in any Court of Justice in England, shall be
admissible in evidence in the like manner, to the same extent,
and for the same purpose, in any Court in Antigua and
Barbuda, or before any person having by law, or by consent
of parties, authority to hear, receive and examine evidence.

13. (1) Every Judge shall take judicial notice of the
following facts-

(a) all public Acts of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom whatever, unless the contrary is expressly pro-
vided in any such Acts;

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Evidence (CAP. 155 7

(b) all Orders of the Queen in Council and
statutory instruments of the United Kingdom having
effect in Antigua and Barbuda;

(6) the London Gazette, the Gazette of Antigua and
Barbuda, the Government Gazette of any other part
of Her Majesty's dominions or of any territory under
Her Majesty's protection or of a territory for the time
being administered by the Government of the United
Kingdom under the trusteeship system of the United
Nations;

(d) all laws purporting to be printed or published
by authority or by the Government Printer;

(e) all other matters which a Judge is directed by
any law to notice.

(2) No evidence of any fact of which judicial notice shall
be taken need be given by the party alleging its existence;
but the Judge, on being called upon to take judicial notice
thereof may, if he is unacquainted with the fact, refer to
any person or to any document or book of reference for his
satisfaction in relation thereto, or may refuse to take judicial
notice thereof unless and until the party calling upon him
to take the notice produces the document or book of reference.

(3) For the purpose of this section "Judge" includes
all persons authorized to take evidence either by law or by
consent of parties.

14. A party producing a witness shall not be allowed H:;&;ck$;zs
to impeach his credit by general evidence of bad character, ., ,itness.
but he may, in case the witness shall, in the opinion of the
Judge, prove adverse, contradict him by other evidence, or,
by leave of the Judge, prove that he has made, at other times,
a statement inconsistent with his present testimony; but,
before such last-mentioned proof can be given, the
circumstances of the supposed statement, sufficient to
designate the particular occasion, must be mentioned to the
witness, and he must be asked whether or not he has made
such statement.

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8 CAP. 155) Evidence

Proof of 15. ~f a witness, upon cross-examination as to a
contradictory
statements of former statement made by him relative to the subject matter
adverse witness. of the cause and inconsistent with his present testimony, does

not distinctly admit that he has made such statement, proof
may be given that he did in fact make it; but, before such
proof can be given, the circumstances of the supposed state-
ment, sufficient to designate the particular occasion, must
be mentioned to the witness, and he must be asked whether
or not he has made such statement.

Cross- 16. A witness may be cross-examined as to previous
examination as
to previous statements made by him in writing, or reduced into writing,
statements in relative to the subject matter of the cause, without such
writing.

writing being shown to him; but, if it is intended to contra-
dict such witness by the writing, his attention must, before
such contradictory proof can be given, be called to those
parts of the writing which are to be used for the purpose
of so contradicting him:

Provided that it shall be competent for the Judge, at
any time during the trial, to require the production of the
writing for his inspection, and he may thereupon make such
use of it, for the purpose of the trial, as he shall think fit.

Proof of previous
conviction of a

17. A witness in any cause may be questioned as to
witness may be whether he has been convicted of any felony or mis-
given. demeanour, and, upon being so questioned, if he either denies

the fact or refuses to answer, it shall be lawful for the opposite
party to prove his conviction, and a certificate containing
the substance and effect only, omitting the formal part, of
the indictment and conviction for the previous felony or
misdemeanour, or a copy of any such summary conviction,
purporting to be signed by the clerk of the Court, or other
officer, having the custody of the record of the Court where
the offender was first convicted, or to which such summary
conviction has been returned, or by the deputy of such clerk
or officer (for which certificate a fee of one dollar and twenty
cents shall be demanded and taken) shall, upon proof of the
identity of the person, be sufficient evidence of the said con-
viction, without proof of the signature, or official character,
of the person appearing to have signed the same.

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Evidence (CAP. 155

18. It shall not be necessary to prove by the attesting Attesting witness
need not be witness any instrument to the validity of which attestation called except in

is not requisite, and such instrument may be proved by certain cases.
admission, or otherwise, as if there had been no attesting
witness thereto.

19. Comparison of a disputed writing with any Comparison of
writing proved, to the satisfaction of the Judge, to be genuine disputed writing.
shall be permitted to be made by witnesses; and such writings,
and the evidence of witnesses respecting the same, may be
submitted to the Court and jury as evidence of the
genuineness, or otherwise, of the writing in dispute.

20. Any person, who shall upon any examination False evidence
how punishable.

upon oath or affirmation, or in any affidavit, in any pro-
ceedings under this Act, wilfully and corruptly gives false
evidence, or wilfully and corruptly swear or affirm anything
which shall be false, shall be liable to the penalties of wilful
and corrupt perjury.

21. Whenever, in any proceeding whatever, it may Where necessary
to prove be necessary to prove the trial and conviction, or acquittal, convict~on or

of any person charged with any indictable offence, it shall acquittal of
person charged,

not be necessary to produce the record of the conviction, copy of
or acquittal, of such person, or a copy thereof, but it shall record sufficient.
be sufficient that it be certified, or purport to be certified,
under the hand of the clerk of the Court, or other officer
having the custody of the records of the Court where such
conviction or acquittal took place, that the paper produced
is a copy of the record of the indictment, trial, conviction,
and judgment, or acquittal, as the case may be, omitting
the formal parts thereof.

22. Whenever any book, or other document, is of such Examined or
certified copies of

a public nature as to be admissible in evidence on its mere documents
production from the proper custody, and no statute exists admissible in

evidence. which renders its contents provable by means of a copy, any
copy thereof, or extract therefrom, shall be admissible in
evidence in any Court of Justice, or before any person now,
or hereafter, having by law, or by consent of parties, authority
to hear, receive, and examine evidence:

Provided it be proved to be an examined copy or extract,
or:

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

CAP. 155) Evidence

Certifying a false
document a
misdemeanour.

Court or person
authorized to
hear evidence
may administer
oath.

Deeds may be
proved before
British Consuls,
&c.

Provided it purport to be signed and certified as a true
copy, or extract, by the officer to whose custody the original
is entrusted, and which officer is hereby required to furnish
such certified copy, or extract, to any person applying, at
a reasonable time, for the same, upon payment of a fee for
the same of eighteen cents for every folio of ninety-six words.

23. If any officer, authorized or required by this Act
to furnish any certified copies or extracts, shall wilfully certify
any document as being a true copy or extract, knowing that
the same is not a true copy or extract, as the case may be,
he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and be liable to im-
prisonment for any term not exceeding eighteen months.

24. Every Court, Judge, Magistrate, Officer, Com-
missioner, Arbitrator, or other person, now or hereafter,
having by law, or by consent of parties, authority to hear,
receive, and examine evidence, is hereby empowered to
administer an oath to all such witnesses as are legally called
before them respectively.

25. Conveyances, deeds, letters of attorney, and
instruments in writing made in any place out of Antigua
and Barbuda, not being part of the dominions of Her
Majesty, Her Heirs or Successors, the due execution of which
shall be proved by a subscribing witness by affidavit sworn
before, or which shall be acknowledged by the party or parties
executing the same to be his, her, or their deed or act before,
any British Consul-General, Consul, Vice-Consul, acting
Consul, or Consular Agent, for the time being, resident at
or near such place, and certified under his hand and seal
of office, and annexed to the thing proved, shall be deemed
to be as sufficiently proved as if the same witness were
personally present and made such proof, or if such instrument
in writing were acknowledged, where acknowledgement is
by law necessary, by such party, before the Chief Justice
or any other Judge of the Supreme Court, or the proper
Registrar of deeds:

Provided that such deeds, letters of attorney, or written
instruments, if concerning lands or tenements, be recorded
in the proper Registrar's office, and copies thereof certified
by him shall be admitted in evidence; but this section shall

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Evidence (CAP. 155 11

not apply to the probate of any will, codicil, or testamentary
writing.

26. It shall be lawful for any Court in Antigua and Orders and
commissions for

Barbuda, and any Judge thereof, in every action depending the examination
in such Court, upon the application of any of the parties of witnesses.
to such suit, when it shall appear on oath or otherwise, that
a person, required as a witness in the cause, will be unable
to attend the trial from being about to quit the jurisdiction
of the Court, or from permanent sickness or any permanent
infirmity, to order the examination on oath, upon inter-
rogatories or otherwise, before any Judge of the said Court,
or any officer thereof, or other person or persons to be named
in such order, of any witnesses within the jurisdiction of the
Court where the action shall be depending; or, where the
person required to be examined is out of the jurisdiction of
the Court, to order a commission to issue for the examina-
tion of witnesses on oath, at any place, or places, so out
of the jurisdiction of the Court, by interrogatories or other-
wise, and, by the same or any subsequent order or orders,
to give all such directions, touching the time, place, and
manner of such examination, and all other matters and cir-
cumstances connected with such examination, as may appear
reasonable and just.

27. When any rule, or order, shall be made for the Attendance of
persons to be examination of witnesses within the jurisdiction of the Court examined as

wherein the action shall be depending, by authority of this witnesses.
Act, it shall be lawful for the Court, or any Judge thereof,
in and by the first rule or order to be made in the matter,
or any subsequent rule or order, to command the attendance
of any person, to be named in such rule or order, for the
purpose of being examined, or the production of any writings
or other documents to be mentioned in such rule or order,
and to direct the attendance of any such person to be at his
own place of abode or elsewhere, if necessary or convenient
so to do; and the wilful disobedience of any such rule or
order shall be deemed a contempt of Court, and proceedings
may be thereupon had by attachment (the Judge's order being
made a rule of Court, before or at the time of the application
for an attachment) if, in addition to the service of the rule
or order, an appointment of the time and place of attend-
ance in obedience thereto, signed by the person or persons
appointed to take the examination, or by one or more of

LAWS OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

CAP. 155) Evidence

such persons, shall be also served together with, or after the
service of, such rule or order:

Provided that every person, whose attendance shall be
so required, shall be entitled to the like conduct money, and
payment of expenses and loss of time, as upon attendance
at the trial:

Provided also that no person shall be compelled to
produce, under any such rule or order, any writing or other
document that he would not be compellable to produce at
a trial of the cause.

Persons
authorized to

28. It shall be lawful for all and every person autho-
examine rized to take the examination of witnesses, by any rule, order,
witnesses. or commission made or issued in pursuance of this Act, and

he and they are hereby authorized and required to take all
such examinations upon the oath of the witnesses, or affir-
mation in cases where affirmation may be allowed by law
instead of oath, to be administered by the person so autho-
rized, or by any Judge of the Court wherein the action shall
be depending; and if upon such oath or affirmation, any
person making the same shall wilfully and corruptly give
any false evidence, every person so offending shall be deemed
and taken to be guilty of perjury, and shall and may be
indicted and prosecuted for such offence.

Special report of 29. It shall be lawful for the officer, or any other
persons
authorized to person, to be named in every such rule or order, as aforesaid,
examine for taking any examination in pursuance thereof, and he and
witnesses.

they are hereby required to make, if need be, a special report
to the Court, touching such examination, and the conduct,
or absence, of any witness, or other person, thereon or
relating thereto; and the Court is hereby authorized to
institute such proceedings, and make such order or orders,
upon such report, as justice may require, and as may be
instituted and made in any case of contempt of the Court.

Costs. 30. The costs of every rule, or order, to be made for
the examination of witnesses under any commission, or other-
wise, by virtue of this Act, and of the proceedings thereupon,
shall be costs in the cause, unless otherwise directed, either
by the Judge making such rule or order, or by the Judge
before whom the cause may be tried, or by the Court.

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Evidence (CAP. 155 13

3 1. NO examination or deposition, to be taken by Examinations not
to be read in

virtue of any of the provisions of this Act, shall be read in
evidence at any trial, without the consent of the party against the witness is

unable to attend
whom the same may be offered, unless it shall appear, to
the satisfaction of the Court, that the examinee, or depo-
nent, is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court, or dead, or
unable from permanent sickness, or other permanent
infirmity, to attend the trial; in all, or any, of which cases
the examination and depositions certified under the hand
of the Judge, officer, commissioner, or other person taking
the same, shall and may, without proof of the signature to
such certificate, be received and read in evidence, saving
all just exceptions.

32. It shall be lawful for the Governor-General, or % % $ , " , " ~ P ~ ~ ~ ~
any Judge of the Supreme Court, in any case where he may
see fit to do so, upon written application, to issue a warrant
or order under his hand, for bringing up any prisoner or
person confined in any prison, or other legalized place of
confinement, under any sentence, or under commitment for
trial, or otherwise (except under process in any civil action,
suit, or proceeding), before any Court, Judge, Justices,
Magistrate, or other judicature, to be examined as a witness
in any cause or matter, civil or criminal, depending, or to
be inquired of or determined, in or before any such Court,
Judge, Justices, Magistrate, or judicature; and the person
required by any such warrant, or order, to be so brought
before such Court, Judge, Justices, Magistrate, or judicature,
shall be so brought under the same care and custody, and
be dealt with in like manner in all respects, as a prisoner,
required by any writ of habeas corpus, awarded by the Supreme
Court, to be brought before such Court to be examined as
a witness in any cause or matter depending before such Court,
is now by law required to be dealt with.

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14 CAP. 155) Evidence

SCHEDULE S. 7 (1)

Chapter Title Parts of Act referred to

Cap. 116 Criminal Law Amendment Act The whole Act.

Cap. 216 Infant Life Preservation Act The whole Act.

Cap. 300 Offences against the Person Act Sections 29, 43, 44, 49 to 53 (in-
clusive), 54, 55 and 60.

Cap. 405 Small Charges Act Sections 13(2), 14(1), 16(1) and
25.

Cap. 267 Married Women's Property Act Sections 14 and 18.