Isle of Man: Witness In Fear Of Testifying

Last Updated: 11 March 2014
Article by Peter Taylor

In R v Crellin Crim 2012/32 the High Court was asked to admit as hearsay evidence the statement of a witness who through fear would not give evidence.

As in most, if not all common law jurisdiction, hearsay evidence is not admissible as evidence in criminal trials except in certain circumstances.

One circumstance where hearsay evidence is allowed to be presented as evidence in a criminal trial in the Isle of Man is where the witness, through fear will not give evidence and if it shown beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution that there is such fear then a statement made by the witness to a Police Officer can be read as evidence (Section 1 Criminal Justice Act 1991 an Act of Tynwald).

The issue of a witness being in fear and whether the admission of hearsay evidence deprives the Defendant of a fair trial has been the subject of numerous decisions in the Courts of England and Wales, but such issues have not arisen or come before the Courts in the Isle of Man.

In such circumstances where there is no body of case law in the Isle of Man the Courts will look to other commonwealth jurisdictions for precedents.

In Re Frankland and Moore [1987] A.C. 576 (PC)The Privy Council (the highest Appellate Court for the Isle of Man) stated that as a matter of practice reference is invariably made to the decisions of Courts of England and Wales and reference can be made to other Common Law jurisdictions particularly those who share the Privy Council as the ultimate Appellant Court for the jurisdiction, in arguments before Manx Courts.

The general principle of legal precedents applying in the Isle of Man is that decisions of English courts, in particular the House of Lords (having the same composition as the Privy Council) and the Court of Appeal, are not binding but are of high persuasive authority, and should generally be followed unless

(i) the decision is contrary to an Isle of Man statute;

(ii) there is decided Manx case law to the contrary or

(iii) there are exceptional local conditions which gives good reason for not following the decision from England and Wales.

In Bitel v Kyrgyz Mobil and others (Judgment November 30 2007), His Honour Deemster Doyle set out to the position in respect of the effect of precedents from other jurisdictions in the Isle of Man as follows.

"The Isle of Man is an active member of the Commonwealth and whilst historically it has tended to follow English law I feel quite free to look for guidance to other Commonwealth countries as there is no binding or persuasive authority to the contrary in England.

"In addition to applying our own local precedents Manx courts will also continue to benefit from the learning and reasoning of judgments of the English courts and "other great common law courts" including the High Court of Australia."

The Criminal Justice Act 1991 was enacted prior to the coming into force of the Human Rights Act 2001 (an Act of Tynwald) and the wording of the Isle of Man statue was based upon Section 23 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (an Act of the Westminster Parliament) which has been superseded in England and Wales by Section 116 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (an Act of the Westminster Parliament).

The Court in Crellin had, therefore, to first decide if precedents from other Jurisdictions could be cited in reaching its decision on the issue of a witness being in fear.

The Court found that whilst there were differences in the statutes of the Isle of Man and those in England and Wales, the differences were not considered to be of substance or of any significance and that reference to precedents from the Courts in England and Wales on the issue of a witness being in fear could be referred to.

The decision of the Court in the Isle of Man in Crellin followed the decisions of the UK Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and found there has to be a causative link, established beyond reasonable doubt, between the fear and the failure or refusal of the witness to give evidence.

In the Crellin case the witness was not in fear of matters connected with the case he was testifying in but was in fear of returning to the Isle of Man due to other circumstances.

On the issue of the admission of hearsay evidence by way of a witness being in fear and the Defendant's right to a fair trial the Isle of Man case law has now been considered in light of the Human Rights Act.


Simcocks has a dedicated and experienced team of criminal lawyers who have an impressive track record acting for defendants from the police station through to the representation of defendants at trial in both summary and General Gaol Courts. We advise on a wide range of matters including motoring law, white collar fraud involving companies and/or individual directors, criminal defence and exclusion orders made against offenders. Our team acts for both privately funded and legally aided clients as well as a number of well know insurers, corporate entities and we regularly act as duty Advocates in the summary Court and at the Police station.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions