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Revisiting Similar Fact Evidence in Criminal and Civil Cases and Proposals for Reform

Jeffrey Pinsler SC

(2021) 33 SAcLJ 531

The statutory provisions in the Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) governing the admissibility of similar fact evidence remain in the same state as when they were originally enacted in the 19th century. As a result of this stasis, the Singapore courts have had to act creatively to ensure the justness of their decisions in both criminal and civil cases. This endeavour has necessitated the importation of late 20th- and 21st century common law principles which lack symbiosis with the original sections because of the antiquated approach of the latter. This article proposes the reform of these sections to achieve consistency with the Singapore case law in the interest of clarity, certainty and statutory integrity.