What is the standard for determining whether to accept or reject evidence in a sexual assault case?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from Hill v. Best Western and another, 2016 BCHRT 92 (CanLII):

In resolving conflicts in the evidence, and determining whether to accept the evidence of any witness, in whole or in part, I have adopted and applied the standards set out in Bradshaw v. Stenner, 2010 BCSC 1398, paras. 186-187 (citations excluded): Credibility involves an assessment of the trustworthiness of a witness’ testimony based upon the veracity or sincerity of a witness and the accuracy of the evidence that the witness provides. The art of assessment involves examination of various factors such as the ability and opportunity to observe events, the firmness of his [or her] memory, the ability to resist the influence of interest to modify his [or her] recollection, whether the witness’ evidence harmonizes with independent evidence that has been accepted, whether the witness changes his [or her] testimony during direct and cross-examination, whether the witness’ testimony seems unreasonable, impossible, or unlikely, whether a witness has a motive to lie, and the demeanour of a witness generally. Ultimately, the validity of the evidence depends on whether the evidence is consistent with the probabilities affecting the case as a whole and shown to be in existence at the time. [...] a methodology to adopt is to first consider the testimony of a witness on a ‘stand alone’ basis, followed by an analysis of whether the witness’ story is inherently believable. Then, if the witness testimony has survived relatively intact, the testimony should be evaluated based upon the consistency with other witnesses and with documentary evidence. The testimony of non-party, disinterested witnesses may provide a reliable yardstick for comparison. Finally, the court should determine which version of events is the most consistent with the “preponderance of probabilities which a practical and informed person would readily recognize as reasonable in that place and in those conditions”.

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