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Civil Proceedings Evidence Act, 1965 (Act No. 25 of 1965)

Part VI : Documentary Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions)

34. Admissibility of documentary evidence as to facts in issue


(1) In any civil proceedings where direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible, any statement made by a person in a document and tending to establish that fact shall on production of the original document be admissible as evidence of that fact, provided—
(a) the person who made the statement either—
(i) had personal knowledge of the matters dealt with in the statement; or
(ii) where the document in question is or forms part of a record purporting to be a continuous record, made the statement (in so far as the matters dealt with therein are not within his personal knowledge) in the performance of a duty to record information supplied to him by a person who had or might reasonably have been supposed to have personal knowledge of those matters; and
(b) the person who made the statement is called as a witness in the proceedings unless he is dead or unfit by reason of his bodily or mental condition to attend as a witness or is outside the Republic, and it is not reasonably practicable to secure his attendance or all reasonable efforts to find him have been made without success.


(2) The person presiding at the proceedings may, if having regard to all the circumstances of the case he is satisfied that undue delay or expense would otherwise be caused, admit such a statement as is referred to in subsection (1) as evidence in those proceedings—
(a) notwithstanding that the person who made the statement is available but is not called as a witness;
(b) notwithstanding that the original document is not produced, if in lieu thereof there is produced a copy of the original document or of the material part thereof proved to be a true copy.


(3) Nothing in this section shall render admissible as evidence any statement made by a person interested at a time when proceedings were pending or anticipated involving a dispute as to any fact which the statement might tend to establish.


(4) A statement in a document shall not for the purposes of this section be deemed to have been made by a person unless the document or the material part thereof was written, made or produced by him with his own hand, or was signed or initialled by him or otherwise recognized by him in writing as one for the accuracy of which he is responsible.


(5) For the purpose of deciding whether or not a statement is admissible as evidence by virtue of the provisions of this section, any reasonable inference may be drawn from the form or contents of the document in which the statement is contained or from any other circumstances, and a certificate of a registered medical practitioner may be acted upon in deciding whether or not a person is fit to attend as a witness.