When someone’s opinion actually matters

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In Malaysia, the general rule is that a witness is only allowed to testify facts and not give his opinion. To have a better understanding, ‘fact’ is a thing known or proved to be true. Meanwhile, ‘opinion’ is a person’s judgment or belief on something.

Even when the courts did not accept opinion evidence, there’s few circumstances in which opinion evidence is allowed. According to section 45 of the Evidence Act 1950, it mentions that expert opinion would be allowed if certain areas are out of the judge’s expertise and the nature of evidence requires more in depth and technical knowledge. Among the areas are foreign law, science or arts, identifying fingerprints and identifying the genuineness of a person’s handwriting.

In order for court to accept any opinion, the expert needs to be legit but this doesn’t necessarily mean that he must be academically qualified. In the case of PP v Muhamed bin Sulaiman, court accepted the chemist’s opinion and acknowledge his practical experience even when he had no academic training. The expert may be competent either by formal study or by experience.

In the case of Ong Chan Tow v. R, the court held that the experts cannot give evidence on matters which the court can decide by itself as otherwise they would tend to usurp the function of the court. Expert opinion should be of corroborative nature to the facts and circumstances of the case.

In conclusion, it is a well settled law that the opinion of an expert should be taken with a great caution and decision of the court should not be based simply on the basis of the expert evidence without substantial corroboration or supporting evidence. For a person to testify in court, he must first establish to court that he is an expert as defined under Section 45 (1) of the Evidence Act 1950.

Source: Can a person’s opinion be used as evidence in Malaysian courts? , ASKLEGAL

1 thought on “When someone’s opinion actually matters”

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