English Law before the Criminal Justice Act 2003
This chapter examines the doctrinal history of propensity evidence, covering the development of the common law up until its replacement by the provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA). An understanding of events prior to the CJA 2003 puts us in a better position to evaluate the impact of the Act and to assess whether various criticisms of it — which inevitably assume that there is a better way of going about things — are valid. For this reason, the analysis focuses on the situation just prior to the introduction of the CJA. The case law is also significant because it provides a rich set of illustrations of situations in which questions about the admissibility of propensity evidence arise, and of how courts have responded.
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