Plain Guide to Litigation: Preparation for hearings

7. Evidence

A court decides cases on the evidence properly available to it. That is sometimes referred to as the “evidence in the cause”. This means the material presented by the parties. It usually takes the form of written productions and the testimony of witnesses as given at the hearing.

In the Land Court it is common to have an inspection of the land in dispute. The Court will be entitled to treat the evidence of things it sees or is shown on inspection as part of the evidence in the cause.

There should be no difficulty understanding that a court pays no attention to local gossip – unless that has been discussed or examined in open court. It should be equally obvious that the same applies to what has been said in the newspapers. A court cannot be taken to be aware of any public comment which may have been made about a particular issue unless the material is brought to its attention in an appropriate way as part of the evidence in the cause.

Of course, the Land Court is an expert court, entitled to use its expertise as appropriate. The Court’s wide experience of crofting and agricultural matters helps it reach a quick understanding of issues and helps it evaluate evidence. However, you can expect the Court to tell you of any special information or any special experience it has relative to the issues in your case so that you or any expert witnesses have a chance to comment on it. A court will not try to decide a case on evidence which has not been available to the parties in open court.

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