Previous consistent statements
Use of a previous consistent statement once admitted
5.26Section 35 is silent as to whether, if admissible, a previous consistent statement can be used for all purposes, or only to bolster the witness’s credibility.
5.27At the first opportunity, the Court of Appeal concluded that “if [previous consistent] statements are admissible under s 35, they are admissible to prove the truth of their contents.” Such an approach was subsequently criticised.
5.28However, the Supreme Court in Hart v R has concluded that the “admissible for all purposes” interpretation is correct. This position is consistent with what the Law Commission said in Evidence: Reform of the Law, and in the subsequent advice to the Minister of Justice, and we remain of the view that it is right. As such, while the provision could be amended to expressly provide this, as we earlier suggested, it is not strictly necessary.