What are the factors relevant to assessing the credibility and reliability of witnesses?

British Columbia, Canada

The following excerpt is from Smith v Smith, 2018 BCSC 1577 (CanLII):

In Nearing v. Sauer, 2015 BCSC 58 (“Nearing”) at para. 32, the court reiterated the factors relevant in assessing the credibility and reliability of witnesses as follows:

The factors to be considered when assessing the credibility (and reliability) of a witness were summarized in Bradshaw v. Stenner, 2010 BCSC 1398 at para. 186, aff’d 2012 BCCA 296 [Bradshaw]. They include the firmness of the witness’s memory, the ability of the witness to resist the influence of interest in modifying her recollection, whether the witness’s evidence harmonizes with independent evidence that has been accepted and whether the witness changes her evidence during direct examination and cross-examination (or between examination for discovery and trial) or is otherwise inconsistent in her recollections. Other factors are whether the witness’s evidence seems generally unreasonable, impossible or unlikely and the witness’s demeanour. At bottom, the question is whether the witness’s evidence is consistent with the probabilities affecting the case as a whole.

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