Admissibility Of Hearsay Evidence In Civil Proceedings

Always revitalising and evolving


About the project

The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee considered whether the rule against hearsay in the law of evidence required reform. Generally speaking, the rule provides that a statement claiming that a certain fact exists is not admissible for proving the existence of the fact. However, the rule has long been criticized as the line between hearsay and non-hearsay evidence has always been difficult to determine with precision. There are numerous common law exceptions to the rule, but these are regarded as difficult to apply in practice.

In Singapore, the hearsay rule and exceptions to it are placed on a statutory footing in the Evidence Act. The Committee noted that while this had avoided many of the criticisms levelled at common law exceptions to the rule, the statutory exceptions left many questions unanswered.

The Committee recommended abolition of the hearsay rule while introducing proper safeguards to ensure that there is a basic level of fairness to the parties to legal proceedings.

Project status: Completed

  • The report was published in May 2007.
  • Parliament considered the subject-matter of the report on 14 February 2012. Eventually, in the Evidence (Amendment) Act 2012 (No 4 of 2012), Parliament decided not to abolish the rule against the admission of hearsay evidence, but to introduce more flexible exceptions to the rule.
  • In Gimpex Ltd v Unity Holdings Business Ltd [2015] SGCA 8, [2015] 2 SLR 686 at paragraph 92, the Court of Appeal referred to the report to aid in the interpretation of section 32(1)(b) of the Evidence Act (Chapter 97, 1997 Revised Edition).
  • In an article entitled “Starboard: Demise Charters and the Creation of a Paper Reality” (22 April 2019; archived here), Lawrence Teh and Jen Wei Loh of Dentons Rodyk referred to the report when discussing the High Court judgment The “Mount Apo” and the “Hanjin Ras Laffan” [2019] SGHC 57, noting that the case again raised the issue of “whether Singapore’s evidentiary rules on hearsay should be abolished on the ground that, in the modern age, they serve to distort a case that a party would otherwise be able to bring”.

Areas of law

 Evidence law

Click on the image above to view the report

Last updated 10 May 2019


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