Report No. 69
*. The paras have not been numbered in this Chapter, in the Report published by the Law Commission.
Introductory.-We now come to four sections in the Act which deal with evidence of character. Evidence of good or bad character may become relevant under other provisions of the Act-for example, sections 14 and 15; but in these other provisions attention is focused on the relevance of a facts under some other head. The facts are not relevant as showing character, but for some other reason. For example, a fact may be relevant as showing notice or past relations between the parties, and the like. The revelation of character is incidental in such cases. Sections 52 to 55, on the other hand, deal with the question of relevance of facts when sought to be given in evidence directly as showing character.
Arrangement of matter.-The arrangement of matter in these sections may at first sight appear to be haphazard; but it is not really so. Facts relevant to the principal issues are first dealt with (sections 52-54), followed by a section (section 55) dealing with facts relevant to the quantum of damages. The common thread, of course, is character. By way of a broad statement of the approach shown in these sections, it can be stated that the law leans against evidence of bad character.
Further, in civil cases, it also leans against evidence of good character.
Section 52-Principle.-Dealing, first, with civil cases, section 52 provides that the fact that the character of any person concerned is such as to render probable or improbable any conduct imputed to him, is irrelevant, except in so far as such character appears from facts otherwise relevant.
The principle underlying section 52 is this. Evidence of character is exclude in civil cases as being too remote, and, at the best, affording but slight assistance towards the determination of the issue1. Such evidence is foreign to the point in issue, and only calculated to create prejudice2.
Change not needed.-This general principle is sound enough and caused not serious difficulty. Hence, we see no reason to disturb the section.
1. Taylor Evidence, section 354, quoted in Woodroffe, Commentary on section 52.
2. Roscoe N.P. Evidence, 87 quoted in Woodroffe Evidence, Commentary on section 52.