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Evidence Act 1950 [Act 56]

Judgments of Courts when Relevant

40 Previous judgments relevant to bar a second suit or trial

The existence of any judgment, order or decree which by law prevents any court from taking cognizance of a suit or holding a trial is a relevant fact when the question is whether the court ought to take cognizance of the suit or to hold the trial.

41 Relevancy of certain judgments in probate, etc., jurisdiction

(1) A final judgment, order or decree of a court, in the exercise of probate, matrimonial, admiralty or bankruptcy jurisdiction, which confers upon or takes away from any person any legal character, or which declares any person to be entitled to any such character, or to be entitled to any specific thing, not as against any specified person but absolutely, is relevant when the existence of any such legal character or the title of any such person to any such thing is relevant.

(2) Such judgment, order or decree is conclusive proof-

(a) that any legal character which it confers accrued at the time when the judgment, order or decree came into operation;

(b) that any legal character to which it declares any such person to be entitled accrued to that person at the time when the judgment, order or decree declares it to have accrued to that person;

(c) that any legal character which it takes away from any such person ceased at the time from which the judgment, order or decree declared that it had ceased or should cease; and

(d) that anything to which it declares any person to be so entitled was the property of that person at the time from which the judgment, order or decree declares that it had been or should be his property.

42 Relevancy and effect of judgments, orders or decrees other than those mentioned in section 41

Judgments, orders or decrees other than those mentioned in section 41 are relevant if they relate to matters of a public nature relevant to the inquiry; but such judgments, orders or decrees are not conclusive proof of that which they state.

ILLUSTRATION

A sues B for trespass on his land. B alleges the existence of a public right of way over the land which A denies.

The existence of a decree in favour of the defendant in a suit by A against C for a trespass on the same land in which C alleged the existence of the same right of way is relevant, but it is not conclusive proof that the right of way exists.

43 Judgments, etc., other than those mentioned in sections 40 to 42 when relevant

Judgments, orders or decrees other than those mentioned in sections 40, 41 and 42 are irrelevant unless the existence of such judgment, order or decree is a fact in issue or is relevant under some other provision of this Act.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) A and B separately sue C for a libel which reflects upon each of them. C in each case says that the matter alleged to be libellous is true, and the circumstances are such that it is probably true in each case or in neither.

A obtains a decree against C for damages on the ground that C failed to make out his justification. The fact is irrelevant as between B and C.

(b) A prosecutes B under section 498 of the Penal Code for enticing away C, A's wife.

B denies that C is A's wife, but the court convicts B.

Afterwards C is prosecuted for bigamy in marrying B during A's lifetime. C says that she never was A's wife.

The judgment against B is irrelevant as against C.

(c) A has obtained a decree for the possession of land against B. C, B's son, murders A in consequence.

The existence of the judgment is relevant as showing motive for a crime.

(d) A is charged with theft and with having been previously convicted of theft.

The previous conviction is relevant as a fact in issue.

(e) A is tried for the murder of B. The fact that B prosecuted A for libel and that A was convicted and sentenced is relevant under section 8 as showing the motive for the fact in issue.

44 Fraud or collusion in obtaining judgment or incompetency of court may be proved

Any party to a suit or other proceeding may show that any judgment, order or decree which is relevant under section 40, 41 or 42, and which has been proved by the adverse party, was delivered by a court not competent to deliver it or was obtained by fraud or collusion.

Opinions of Third Persons when Relevant

45 Opinions of experts

(1) When the court has to form an opinion upon a point of foreign law or of science or art, or as to identity or genuineness of handwriting or finger impressions, the opinions upon that point of persons specially skilled in that foreign law, science or art, or in questions as to identity or genuineness of handwriting or finger impressions, are relevant facts.

(2) Such persons are called experts.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) The question is whether the death of A was caused by poison.

The opinions of experts as to the symptoms produced by the poison by which A is supposed to have died are relevant.

(b) The question is whether A, at the time of doing a certain act, was, by reason of unsoundness of mind, incapable of knowing the nature of the act or that he was doing what was either wrong or contrary to law.

The opinions of experts upon the question whether symptoms exhibited by A commonly show unsoundness of mind, and whether such unsoundness of mind usually renders persons incapable of knowing the nature of the acts which they do or of knowing that what they do is either wrong or contrary to law, are relevant.

(c) The question is whether a certain document was written by A. Another document is produced which is proved or admitted to have been written by A.

The opinions of experts on the question whether the two documents were written by the same person or by different persons are relevant.

46 Facts bearing upon opinions of experts

Facts not otherwise relevant are relevant if they support or are inconsistent with the opinions of experts when such opinions are relevant.

ILLUSTRATIONS

(a) The question is whether A was poisoned by a certain poison.

The fact that other persons who were poisoned by that poison exhibited certain symptoms, which experts affirm or deny to be the symptoms of that poison, is relevant.

(b) The question is whether an obstruction to a harbour is caused by a certain sea wall.

The fact that other harbours similarly situated in other respects but where there were no such sea walls began to be obstructed at about the same time is relevant.

47 Opinion as to handwriting when relevant

When the court has to form an opinion as to the person by whom any document was written or signed, the opinion of any person acquainted with the handwriting of the person by whom it is supposed to have been written or signed, that it was or was not written or signed by that person, is a relevant fact.

Explanation-A person is said to be acquainted with the handwriting of another person when he has seen that person write, or when he has received documents purporting to be written by that person in answer to documents written by himself or under his authority and addressed to that person, or when, in the ordinary course of business, documents purporting to be written by that person have been habitually submitted to him.

ILLUSTRATION

The question is whether a given letter is in the handwriting of A, a merchant in London.

B is a merchant in Kuala Lumpur, who has written letters addressed to A and received letters purporting to be written by him. C is B's clerk, whose duty it was to examine and file B's correspondence. D is B's broker, to whom B habitually submitted the letters purporting to be written by A for the purpose of advising him thereon.

The opinions of B, C and D on the question whether the letter is in the handwriting of A are relevant, though neither B, C nor D ever saw A write.

48 Opinion as to existence of right or custom when relevant

When the court has to form an opinion as to the existence of any general custom or right, the opinions as to the existence of such custom or right of persons who would be likely to know of its existence, if it existed, are relevant.

Explanation-The expression "general custom or right" includes customs or rights common to any considerable class of persons.

ILLUSTRATION

The right of the inhabitants of a particular village to use the water of a particular well is a general right within the meaning of this section.

49 Opinion as to usages, tenets, etc., when relevant

When the court has to form an opinion as to-

(a) the usages and tenets of any body of men or family;

(b) the constitution and government of any religious or charitable foundation; or

(c) the meaning of words or terms used in particular districts or by particular classes of people,


the opinions of persons having special means of knowledge thereon are relevant facts.


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