Canadian Criminal Trial Advocacy/Exhibits

Exhibits are physical evidence presented at trial along with oral evidence.

Unless a particular legal exception applies, all exhibits are only admissible after they have been authenticated by oral evidence and established as material and relevant.

This Chapter covers the requirements of establishing the admission of several standard forms of exhibits.

Business recordsEdit

Business records are admissible under common law and under statutory law. [1] Under common law, the record is admissible by the testimony of a person who is a record keeper, who has a duty to make the entry, and has personal knowledge of the record's creation.[2]

The requirements of admissibility under the Canada Evidence Act[1]:

  1. the record is relevant
  2. the institution is a "financial institution"
  3. the witness is the "manager or accountant" of the institution
  4. the record is "one of the ordinary books or records of the financial institution" and was "made in ususal course of business"
  5. the original of the record "is in the custody or control of the financial institution."
  6. copy is a true copy of the record


To admit a copy of an original copy the document must have the following:

  1. it is relevant
  2. the original once existed in the past
  3. the copy was generated from the original
  4. the copy is a fair and accurate reproduction
  5. the original was lost, destroyed, or otherwise unavailable

Letter sent to your witness by someone elseEdit

To admit letter the applicant may need to show any of the following:

  1. letter is relevant
  2. the recipient received the letter
  3. the recipient recognizes the signature as that of the other party
  4. the letter is in the same condition as when it was initially received

Letter sent by your witness to someone elseEdit

To admit letter the applicant may need to show any of the following:

  1. letter is relevant
  2. the sender drafted the letter and addressed it to the other party
  3. the sender saw the original and the copy of the letter
  4. the sender signed the original letter;
  5. the original letter was put in an addressed/stamped envelope with the proper return address
  6. the envelope was put in the mail
  7. the copy is true and accurate to the original
  8. the original was never turned to sender

Signed documentsEdit

A signed document can be called into evidence where it can be established :

  1. the document is relevant to the case
  2. the document has a signature or unique handwriting
  3. the document was signed by the signer
    1. a witness saw the signer sign the document
    2. a witness is familiar with the signer's signature and can identify it
    3. the signing party (even if adverse) can identify the signature and admit creating it
    4. a handwriting expert who can match the signature with a previously established signature of the signer
  4. the document has not been modified or altered since the time of signing

Computer PrintoutEdit

Sound RecordingsEdit

To admit sound recordings the applicant may need to show any of the following:

  1. recording is relevant;
  2. recording device was successfully tested before use
  3. the operator was experienced and qualified to use it properly;
  4. the witness reviewed the recording for accuracy;
  5. the operator reviewed the recording for accuracy;
  6. the audio media was marked, sealed, and stored properly without any opportunity to modify or tamper with it
  7. the recording device was operating correctly in court and able to replay the audio media.
  8. the witness recognizes the voices heard on playback.


  1. R. v. Penno (1977), 76 D.L.R. (3d) 529
    R. v. Monkhouse, [1988] 1 W.W.R. 725 (Alta.C.A.)
  2. R. v. Venner, [1970] S.C.R. 608