The rule in Hollington v Hewthorn in the light of section 17 Of The Civil Proceedings Evidence Act 25 of 1965 in South Africa
South Africa, among others, has adopted, and is bound by, the so-called 'rule in Hollington‘ that originated in England in 1943 in Hollington v Hewthorn (hereinafter the 'Hollington case‘). The issue, among others, that the English Appeal Court had to determine in this case was whether a judgement of a criminal court could be used in subsequent civil proceedings to prove the liability of either of the litigants. The Court reached the conclusion that a judgement of a criminal court is just an irrelevant and inadmissible opinion in later civil proceedings. The court adopted the view that had a criminal conviction been admissible evidence in civil proceedings, it would lead to a situation where the defendant would end up challenging the propriety of those convictions. In the light of that, the courts would be faced with a duty to retry the criminal case in the midst of the civil proceedings. Section 17 of the Civil Proceedings Evidence Act (CPEA) provides that a conviction or an acquittal can be proved by the production of a document dully certified by the relevant court that acquitted or convicted the person in question. Furthermore, section 18 of the Supreme Court Act (SuCA) now section 34 of the Superior Courts Act (SupCA) provides that whenever a judgement, among other things, of a court needs to be proved or referred to in any manner a duly certified copy thereof will serve as prima facie evidence thereof. These sections militate against the rule in Hollington in that they allow, or at least should be interpreted in a manner that accords with the allowance of, the admissibility of conviction evidence in later civil law suits.