Admissions forms part of the Evidence Act

The law of admissions forms part of the Evidence Act, 19671. Under this Act, admissions are statements, oral, written, or inferred from conduct, made by or on behalf of a party to a suit, and admissible in evidence, if relevant, as against his interest2. It is undisputed that in its fact finding mission in civil and criminal cases the court has to look into the relevancy and admissibility of numerous pieces of information.

In terms of the Law of Evidence Act, 1967 only facts, which are declared by the Act to be relevant and admissible, may be used by the court in arriving at a decision. The law provides for different kinds of information admissible as evidence and the modality of bringing before the court the said pieces of evidence. The law also provides the burden of proof lying on the respective parties. However, the law does not detail let alone describe the relative strengths of the various pieces of evidence.

The weight to be attached to various pieces of evidence is not documented in any single manuscript or treatise. Indeed in the absence of a comprehensive documentation of the admissibility of admissions in Tanzania law courts; the need arises for a scholarly research and discussion of the value and weight attached to different categories of admissions as part of evidence and thus how much it can influence decisions of the courts. This paper constitutes four chapters. Chapter one comprises the research proposal.

Chapter two is the general introduction of admissions under which different classification of admissions are dealt with. It also discusses the circumstances and conditions under which each type of admissions may be admissible in criminal proceedings. Chapter three dwells on the probative value of admissions. In this chapter the study analyses different types of admissions and their effect in criminal cases. The last chapter concludes the study.  

Admissions which is a subject of this paper, include confessions but there is a distinction between general admissions and confessions. Admissions form a core part of admissible facts under the law of Evidence Act, 1967 and where relevant, their probative value or weight to be attached to this specie of facts is crucial but not provided for under the Act itself. The probative value of admissions is an area, which has not been specifically addressed by scholars in the subject of evidence.

There is therefore, a gap in the existing literature regarding the evidential value of admissions. This is a problem to learners of law and even practitioners. It is the intention of the author to delve into the provisions of the Act and case laws and come up with a reliable text as to the probative value or weight to be attached to admissions in the courts fact-finding mission. 1. 3. LITERATURE REVIEW As shown above our main concern will be on the probative value of admissions in criminal cases.

The subject under discussion is rich in literature. What is lacking is a synthesis and analysis of the available information in the light of the subject under discussion. The literature, which has so far come to our knowledge focuses on the categories of admissions, capacity of the party to make admissions and the condition under which admissions may be received as evidence. However, none of them has concentrated on the probative value of admissions in criminal cases in Tanzania courts of law.

Morris, in his book, Evidence in East Africa3, as the title suggests, is concerned with the provisions of Evidence Statutes of East African countries4. His discussion on admissions is rather general as it largely deals, with some important rules and principles of admissions. He concentrates mainly on one category of admissions that is 'confessions'5. According to Cross, a party's statements adverse to his case may be received as evidence of the truth of their contents in civil and criminal proceedings6.

Cross also deals with general principles relating to admissions in criminal and civil cases. Phipson, in his work, "Phipson on Evidence"7, stresses on relevance of a statement in admissions generally. He observes that any relevant statement made by a party is admissible against his interest8. He makes his reference in the case of R v Erdheim9. His discussion on admissions like Cross is of general nature. Sarkar in his book, Sarkar on Evidence gives a detailed account of admissions in both civil and criminal cases.

He says admissions are statements, oral or documentary made by a party or a person connected with him, which suggest an inference as to the fact in issue or relevant fact10. The statement may be either a denial or admission of act(s) and that it may be addressed to any one. Sarkar's discussion is not centered on Tanzania but the Indian Law. Wigmore, a celebrated jurist has written extensively on the law of admissions. In his work11, he asserts that the statements made out of court by a party-opponent are universally deemed admissible, when offered against him.

He is also of the opinion that not only are admissions not exceptions to the Hearsay rule, but they satisfy the hear say rule. He bases the reason for admissibility of admissions on the analogy of contradictory or inconsistent statements by witnesses made on a previous occasion12. Wigmore, like the other legal scholars/jurists cited above deals with admissions in general terms and not specifically on their probative value in criminal cases. Few other jurists/legal scholars have defined admissions and elaborated on their ingredients; and in what circumstances they are admissible.

Their discussion of the rules does not differ from what the author of this paper summarized above. It is, therefore, deemed unnecessary to reproduce the same. The referred jurists/legal scholars includes Cowen Zelman13, Fields14, J. B. Thayer15, Shaukut Mahmood16, Taylor17 and Munir18. On the basis of the above brief exposition of the works of most reckoned writers of the law of evidence applicable in common law countries, an attempt to review, and analyse the probative value of admissions as proposed in this paper is timely.