Civil Evidence Act
- Commenced on 23 October 1992
- [This is the version of this document at 31 December 2016 and includes any amendments published up to 31 December 2017.]
- [Note: This version of the Act was revised and consolidated by the Law Development Commission of Zimbabwe]
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short titleThis Act may be cited as the Civil Evidence Act [Chapter 8:01].
3. Application of ActThis Act shall apply only to civil proceedings.
Part II – Competence and compellability of witnesses
4. Competence of witnesses generallyExcept as otherwise provided in this Act or any other enactment, every person shall be competent to give evidence in any civil proceedings.
5. Incompetence due to mental disorder, liquor or drugsNo person who is—
6. Spouses: when competent and compellable
Part III – Privilege
7. Privilege from incrimination in respect of criminal proceedings, penalties or forfeitureNo person shall be compelled to give any evidence if the evidence would tend to expose him to—
8. Privilege relating to legal profession
9. Privilege of confidential communications
10. Privilege in public interest
Part IV – Documentary evidence
11. Admissibility of copies of documentsExcept as otherwise provided in this Act or any other enactment, a copy of a document shall not be admissible to prove the document’s contents, unless—
12. Public and official documentsIn this section—“public document” means a document—(a)which was made by a public officer pursuant to duty to ascertain the truth of the matters stated in the document and to make an accurate record thereof for public use; and(b)to which the public have a right of access;“public officer” means a person holding or acting in a paid office in the service of the State or a local authority.
13. Documents produced by computers
14. Business records
15. Endorsements made outside Zimbabwe on negotiable instruments
16. Documents from designated countries
17. Translations of documents
18. Disputed handwritingComparison of any disputed handwriting with any handwriting proved to be genuine may be made by any witness, and such writings and the evidence of any witness with respect to them may be adduced to prove the genuineness or otherwise of the handwriting in dispute.
19. Refreshing memory from documents
20. Proof of certain matters by affidavit
21. Photographs and plans
Part V – Opinion evidence
22. Expert and lay opinion evidence
23. Medical reportsA medical practitioner who has prepared a report after his examination of any person or body may read and put in his report in any civil proceedings, and the report so read and put in shall be admissible in those proceedings, subject to any other provision of this Act or any other law.
Part VI – Judicial notice
24. Judicial notice
25. Foreign law
Part VII – Admissibility of certain evidence
26. Irrelevant evidence inadmissibleEvidence that is irrelevant or immaterial and cannot lead to the proving or disproving of any point or fact in issue shall not be admissible.
27. First-hand hearsay evidence
28. Evidence in previous legal proceedings
29. Evidence of future rights
30. Taking of evidence in advance of hearing
31. Proof of previous criminal conviction
32. Proof of previous inconsistent statement
33. Evidence of character or reputation of partyNo evidence as to the character or reputation of any party to civil proceedings shall be admissible except—
34. Evidence of similar factsNo evidence as to facts similar to those in issue shall be admissible in any civil proceedings except where—
35. Proof of public office
37. Evidence admissible by agreementAny evidence of any nature whatsoever shall be admissible if all the parties to the civil proceedings concerned agree to its admission:Provided that this section shall not limit the power of the court, whether in terms of this Act or otherwise, to exclude any evidence.
38. Video and audio tapes and similar material
Part VIII – Books and documents of financial institutions
39. Interpretation in Part VIIIIn this Part—“book of account”, in relation to a financial institution, means any ledger, day-book, cash-book or other book or record of account kept by the financial institution in the ordinary course of its business;“financial document” means any form or document relating to the deposit, payment, transfer or removal of moneys which is received or executed by a financial institution in the ordinary course of its business, and includes any instruction or notification in writing so received or executed by a financial institution in relation to any moneys held by or on account with that financial institution;“financial institution” means—(a)any commercial bank, accepting house, discount house or financial institution registered under the Banking Act [Chapter 24:01]; or(b)any building society registered under the Building Societies Act [Chapter 24:02]; or(c)the Corporation as defined in section 2 of the Agricultural Finance Corporation Act [Chapter 18:02]; or[paragraph substituted by Act 14/1999](d)the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe established by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act [Chapter 22:10]; or(e)the Post Office Savings Bank; or(f)any foreign financial institution;“foreign financial institution” means any person carrying on in a foreign country the business of a financial institution such as is mentioned in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) of the definition of “financial institution”.
40. Admissibility of financial documents, entries in books of account and copies thereofSubject to this Part, a financial document shall be admissible as prima facie proof of any fact recorded therein if direct oral evidence of that fact would be admissible, and if it is proved that the financial document—(a)was received or executed and kept by the financial institution concerned in the ordinary course of its business; and(b)is in, or comes immediately from, the custody or control of the financial institution concerned.
41. Proof by affidavit of financial documents entries in books of account and copies thereof
42. Financial institutions not compelled to produce books or financial documentsUnless in special circumstances a court orders the contrary, a financial institution shall not be compelled to produce the originals of its books of account or of any financial document.
43. Part VIII not applicable where financial institution is a partyThis Part shall not apply to any civil proceedings to which the financial institution whose books of account or financial documents may be required in evidence is a party.
44. Computerised financial documents and entries in books of accountWhere a financial document or an entry in a book of account of a financial institution has been produced by a computer, the requirements of both section thirteen and this Part shall apply to the admissibility of that document or entry.
Part IX – Oaths and affirmations
45. Oaths and affirmations
46. Unsworn evidence
47. Administration of oath, affirmation or admonitionThe person presiding over the court or the senior person presiding, as the case may be, shall personally, or through a person designated by him for that purpose, administer an oath, affirmation or admonition to any witness who is required to give oral evidence in the civil proceedings concerned.
Part X – General
48. Court’s power to exclude certain evidence
49. Court’s power to exclude evidence under other lawsNothing in this Act shall limit any power a court may have under any other law to exclude or refuse to allow the giving of any evidence, whether by preventing the questioning of a witness or by refusing to allow the production of any thing or otherwise.
50. Court may examine evidence to deter admissibility or existence of privilege
51. Court not obliged to believe any evidenceThe fact that any evidence is rendered admissible by this Act shall not oblige the court to believe it or to rely on it.
52. Decision may be based on evidence of single witnessSubject to any other law, a court may make a finding and base its decision on the evidence of a single competent and credible witness.
53. Power to take evidence on commission not limited by ActNothing in this Act shall be construed as limiting the power of a court under any other enactment to order or allow the evidence of a witness to be taken on commission, nor as rendering any such evidence inadmissible.
54. Evidence admissible under more than one provision of ActSubject to section forty-four, where any evidence is rendered admissible in terms of two or more provisions of this Act, it may be admitted under any of those provisions.
56. Cases not provided for in ActWhere an issue as to the admissibility of any evidence or the competence or compellability of any witness arises which is not provided for in this Act, the issue shall be determined according to the law applicable in similar cases before the Supreme Court of Judicature in England:Provided that nothing in this section shall give effect with Zimbabwe to any enactment passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom after the 1st June, 1927.
History of this document
23 October 1992