Doctrine Of Res Gestae


Res Gestae is a common law doctrine of Lain
origin.  Previously it was admissible under Section 5 (a) of the old Evidence Act, but now inadmissible under the Evidence Act 2011. It entails those facts though not in issue but must also be proved as they are also relevant to fact in issue, in the sense that they are closely associated with or accompanied, connected and explain that fact in issue, because it throws more light on it as a result of its immediate or close proximity of the declaration or act to the main event, in point of time, place and circumstances that they are said to be part of the transaction.  And hence (Res Gestae) that is relevant not withstanding that they might fall foul of one of the exclusionary rule of evidence especially the rule against hear say.
Certain conditions must be fulfilled before the doctrine of res gestae becomes applicable at common law.  In other words before a declaration or a statement can be admissible as forming part of re-gestae,  It must fulfill three essential conditions”.
1. The statement must have been made substantially simultaneously with the action or event which it accompanies in time, place and circumstances that they are regarded as part of the thing done.  In the case of Bang Weyeku (1943) 9 WACA 195, the statement of the deceased made in the absence of the accused and shortly after the deceased had been stabbed that “Bang has killed me”, was held admissible as Res Gestae by reason of it being made an appreciable time after the actual wound was inflicted.  Also in  Sunday Akpan V. The State (1967) NMLR 185, the statement made by the decease “Sunday has killed me” was held admissible as part of the Res Gestae because it was sufficiently contemporaneous with the event it purporting sought to explain.
2. The statement must explain or accompany the fact in issue, not prior or subsequent or disconnected facts. This simply means that for a statement to form part of the Res Gestae, it must explain the facts in issue and not prior or subsequent facts which have no relationship with it.  Thus in Agassiz V. Lundun Tramway Co. (1873) it was held that the statements were inadmissible as it did not relate to the collision but to the past acts of the driver.
3.    The statement or declaration must be made either by the actor or the victim. In Okokor V. State (1969)  NMLR 140 and Sunday Akpan V. The State (1967) NMLR 185, the statements admitted as forming part of the res gestae in those cases were made by the victims ie the deceased.
However, exclamation of a by stander may be received as res gestae as was done in Miline V. Leister (1862) 7H&N 786.
Res Gestae is an exceptin to the rule against hear say evidence. It is based on the belief that because certain statements are made naturally, spontaneously and without deliberation during the  course of an event they leave the room for misinterpretation upon hearing by someone else, i.e by the witness who will later repeat the statement to the court. And the courts believe that such statements carry a high degree of credibility.


Nkechi Bright-Ewere