The Modern Law of Evidence (12th edition)

Adrian Keane, Paul McKeown

£37.99, OUP 


The Modern Law of Evidence covers one of the most difficult practical aspects of law – the admissibility (or otherwise) of evidence. Many a student has spent sleepless nights trying and failing to understand the hearsay rule, and countless young advocates have fretted over whether the trial judge will allow their lay client’s bad character to go before the jury. 

The uncluttered and clear writing style is ideal to soothe the fears of the young lawyer – it should have the words ‘Don’t Panic’ in large letters on the front. 

This is an authoritative, clear and accessible textbook on the law of evidence. It is one of the best books currently available on the subject. It masterfully covers some of the most difficult aspects of admissibility, in a simple and easy to understand voice.  

This book is ideal for undergraduates and young lawyers.  Each chapter begins with ‘key issues’ to be covered and moves on to cover the topic in logical steps, starting with the background rationale for the law and moving swiftly on to the complexities of the modern law of evidence. Important case law is covered in the main body of the work, with supporting cases in sometimes detailed footnotes. References to articles for further reading and revision questions at the end of chapters are student-friendly and assist the learning process. 

One of the generic difficulties in producing a book of this type is that as soon as it rolls off the printing press, it is out of date. The authors get around this difficulty by allowing the purchaser access to their website, which has the latest updates on law.

The book will be useful for practitioners as well as students. It is also regularly used by practitioners and judges, and is beginning to be quoted in appellate courts. This is no surprise, as Adrian Keane is an emeritus professor of law and Paul McKeown an associate professor. They are both highly respected commentators. 

In my early years at the bar, I regularly used this textbook because it started with the fundamentals of an evidential problem, and took the reader to the latest complexities. The current edition does exactly that. I will share the 12th edition with my pupil.


Sailesh Mehta is a barrister at Red Lion Chambers