Books for lawyers: Principles of Evidence

February 1st, 2024

By PJ Schwikkard and TB Mosaka

Cape Town: Juta

(2023) 5th edition

Price: R 950 (including VAT)

856 pages (eBook)

The Principles of Evidence was first published in 1997 with Steph van der Merwe’s hope that the book would be both helpful and accessible to students, academics, and practitioners alike. It is apparent that 30 years later, this book continues to do so.

In a not-so perfect world, such as our own, the law of evidence is required to guide our search for the truth, and as such, must be readily understood by all relevant legal scholars, students, and practitioners.

The fifth edition is over 700 pages and addresses the present social changes and concerns while still maintaining and building on the traditions of the four previous editions. The book is capable of dealing with both the substantive and practical application of the law of evidence in the South African legal context. The authors have also successfully responded to the calls for the decolonisation of the legal profession and the education associated therewith. The book consists of nine ‘sections’, each dealing with the various topics traditionally found in the law of evidence. The textbook is extremely user-friendly because of the detailed contents page found in the first couple of pages. The ‘Table of Statutes’ and ‘Table of Cases’ on pages xxxiii and lxiii are excellent in assisting any reader to do further research if necessary. As such the textbook appeals to a greater audience of persons within the legal profession. The book reflects the law of evidence accurately up until the date of August 2022.

The book assesses the law of evidence through the lens of the Constitution and analyses the myriad of case law with regards to the admissibility of evidence within South Africa’s courts. It critically analyses the most recent amendments, both statutory and through judicial precedent. Finally, it provides critical commentary on the present system and gives suggestion for future reform to address the present gaps or concerns within the system.

It is apparent that this textbook provides for invaluable knowledge and assistance to all persons within the legal sphere.

Dr Llewelyn Curlewis BLC (UP) LLB (UP) LLM (UP) LLM (Unisa) LLM (cum laude) (UP) LLD (UP) is a legal practitioner and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pretoria.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2024 (Jan/Feb) DR 35.

De Rebus