Kuruma v The Queen

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Judgment Date1955
Date1955
Year1955
CourtPrivy Council
[PRIVY COUNCIL.] KURUMA, SON OF KANIU APPELLANT; AND THE QUEEN RESPONDENT. ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR EASTERN AFRICA. 1954 Dec. 8. 1955 Jan. 11 LORD GODDARD C.J., and LORD OAKSEY, MR. L. M. D. DE SILVA.

East Africa (Kenya) - Criminal Law - Evidence - Illegally obtained - Test of admissibility - Relevance to matters in issue - Principle applicable in both civil and criminal cases - Rule as to admissibility of confessions not qualified - Search without warrant - Illegal possession of ammunition - Reference to Home Secretary - Emergency Regulations, 1952 (Kenya), regs. 8A (1) (b), 29. - Criminal Law. Privy Council - Reference to Secretary of State.

The test to be applied, both in civil and in criminal cases, in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant to the matters in issue. If it is, it is admissible and the court is not concerned with how it was obtained.

While that proposition may not have been stated in express terms in any English case, it is supported by Reg. v. Leatham (1861) 8 Cox C. C. 498, Lloyd v. Mostyn (1842) 10 M. & W. 478 and Calcraft v. Guest [1898] 1 Q.B. 759; and also by the Scottish cases of Rattray v. Rattray (1897) 25 Rettie 315, Lawrie v. Muir, 1950 J.C. 19 and Fairley v. Fishmongers of London, 1951 S.C. (J.) 14. And in Olmstead v. United States (1928) 277 U.S. 438 the Supreme Court of the United States of America were of opinion that the common law did not reject relevant evidence on the ground that it had been obtained by illegal means.

There is no difference in principle for this purpose between a civil and a criminal case, though in the latter the judge always has a discretion to disallow evidence if the strict rules of admissibility would operate unfairly against an accused person: Noor Mohamed v. The King [1949] A.C. 182, 191–2; 65 T.L.R. 134; [1949] 1 All E.R. 365; Harris v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1952] A.C. 694, 707; [1952] 1 T.L.R. 1075; [1952] 1 All E.R. 1044.

The Board were not qualifying in any degree the rule of law that a confession could only be admitted if it was voluntary, and one obtained by threats or promises held out by a person in authority was not to be admitted: Reg v. Thompson [1893] 2 Q.B. 12; 9 T.L.R. 435.

Where, therefore, on the trial of the appellant on a charge of being in unlawful possession of ammunition contrary to regulation 8A (1) (b) of the Emergency Regulations, 1952, of Kenya, evidence of their search of, and of the finding of the ammunition on, the appellant was given by two police officers who, not being of or above the rank of assistant inspector, had (it was alleged) by virtue of regulation 29 of the Emergency Regulations no power to search the appellant, the evidence was properly admitted.

As certain matters of fact in the case caused the Board some uneasiness, though they were not of a nature which according to the settled practice of the Board would entitle them to allow the appeal, the Board directed that they should be called to the attention of the Secretary of State and that the sentence of death which had been passed on the appellant should not be carried out until the Secretary of State had had an apportunity of considering the case.

Judgment of the Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa affirmed.

APPEAL (No. 35 of 1954), in forma pauperis by special leave, from a judgment of the Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa (Nihill P., Worley V.-P. and Briggs J.A.) (March 27, 1954) dismissing an appeal from a conviction by an Emergency Court of Assize at Nairobi in Kenya (Law Ag.J., sitting with three assessors) (February 11, 1954) whereby the present appellant was convicted of being in unlawful possession of two rounds of ammunition contrary to regulation 8A (1) of the Emergency Regulations, 1952, of Kenya, and sentenced to death. The ground on which leave had been obtained was that the evidence proving that the appellant was in possession of the ammunition had been illegally obtained and should not have been admitted.

By regulation 29 of the Emergency Regulations (omitting words immaterial for the present case), which formed the ground on which the objection was taken:

“any police officer of or above the rank of assistant inspector with or without assistance and using force if necessary … may stop and search … any individual whether in a public place or not if he suspects that any evidence of the commission of an...

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316 cases
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    • Malaysia
    • Federal Court (Malaysia)
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  • R v K
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • July 28, 2009
    ...decided case in which this question has been considered. We start therefore from the principle that admissibility depends on relevance. In Kuruma v R [1955] A.C. 197 Lord Goddard C.J. said at page 203: “In their Lordships' opinion the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is ad......
  • Fox v Chief Constable of Gwent
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    • House of Lords
    • October 17, 1985
    ...as to which special considerations apply) any evidence which is relevant is admissible even if it has been obtained illegally. In Kuruma v. The Queen [1955] A.C. 197, Lord Goddard C.J. said, at p. 203: "… the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is ......
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    • Grand Court (Cayman Islands)
    • April 4, 2008
    ...[1968] 3 W.L.R. 391; [1968] 2 All E.R. 610; (1968), 52 Cr. App. R. 353; 112 Sol. Jo. 419, followed. (13) Kuruma, son of Kaniu v. R., [1955] A.C. 197; [1955] 2 W.L.R. 223; [1955] 1 All E.R. 236; (1955), 99 Sol. Jo. 73, followed. (14) Lawrenson v. HillUNK(1860), 10 I.C.L.R. 177, referred to. ......
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30 books & journal articles
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    • United Kingdom
    • Emerald Journal of Money Laundering Control No. 4-2, April 2000
    • April 1, 2000
    ...Rights Act 1998, s. 6(3)(a). (167) See eg Lopez Ostra ν Spain (1994) Scries A, No. 303-C. (168) [1980] AC 402. (169) See also Kuruma ν R [1955] AC 197, 203; R ν Leatham (1861) 8 Cox CC 498, 501. (170) But see ITC v Video Exchange [1982] Ch 431, where evidence obtained in contempt of court w......
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    • Sage International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 10-1, February 2006
    • February 1, 2006
    ...CC 135; PACE, s. 76(4).230 A v Secretary of State (No. 2) [2004] EWCA Civ 1123, [2005] 1 WLR 414 at [253], per NeubergerLJ, Kuruma v R [1955] AC 197, PC; R v Sargent [2003] 1 AC 347, 353–4, HL. See also Ashworth,above n. 93 at 115.231 A v Secretary of State (No. 2) [2004] EWCA Civ 1123, [20......
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    ...it is relevant to a matter in issue in the proceedings. Lord Goddard CJ, in the decision of the Privy Council in Kuruma v The Queen [1955] AC 197, stated the following: In their Lordships’ opinion the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant......
  • Subject Index
    • United Kingdom
    • Sage International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 15-4, October 2011
    • October 1, 2011
    .... . 68Kostovski v The Netherlands (1989) 12 EHRR 434. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95Kuruma vR [1955] AC197 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149Lavery v Member in Charge, CarrickmacrossGarda Station, unreported, 23 February1999, SC . . . . . . . ......
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