Critical Appraisal On Opinion Evidence
Generally, where a court is faced with the problem of determining a suit before it, such can only be solved after making an enquiry into the relevant facts of the evidence put before it by the parties, drawing inferences from those facts, and listening to arguments of parties to the case or of their counsel. Evidence is there from called as a means by which those facts can be proved.
Evidence of what the witness thinks, believes or infers in regard to facts in dispute, as distinguished from personal knowledge of the facts themselves. The Rule of Evidence ordinarily do not permit witnesses to testify as to opinions or conclusions when this type of evidence is expressed by an expert witness, it may be used only if scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge will aid the trial of fact in understanding the Evidence or determining a fact in issue.
Opinion Evidence refers to Evidence of which the witness thinks, believes, or infers in regard to facts as distinguished from personal knowledge of the facts themselves. In common law jurisdictions, the general rule is that a witness is supposed to testify as to what was observed and not to give an opinion on what was observed. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: Expert Evidence and Non-expert Evidence opinion given by laymen which people in their daily lives reach without conscious rationalization.
The following recommendations have been made in view of the above discussion on relevancy and admissibility of opinion evidence in Nigeria.
- The governments of our country should try and create multiple mediums as possible in other to educate and enlighten the whole public, on the need to give accurate and sincere statements and opinions whenever they are called upon or when the need arises for them to testify in/before the court.
- The judges and jury should be diligent in accepting opinion of third persons so as to avoid the incessant occurrence of injustice.
- The counsels should bother themselves with the proof of ingredients necessary to sustain the admissibility of opinion evidence.
It’s apparently clear that one needs to understand the issue of opinion evidence and the rules guiding its relevancy and admissibility well enough to be able to know what situation expert or non-experts opinion will be relevant and admissible when this is done, a well deserved end will be brought to the general feeling that expert witnesses are always made to sing whatever tune as may be dictated to them by those who call them to bear testimony. Should this be done, all elements of bias or prejudice of the general public concerning opinion evidence will be reduced to the bearest minimum.
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