Prior consistent statements are inadmissible to prove the truth of a statement. However, the use of such statements as narrative is allowed to show the fact or timing of a complaint. These statements may be of assistance in determining its truthfulness or credibility ( R. v. Dinardo, 2008 SCC 24, at para. 37). They may also be admitted for the purpose of rebutting an allegation of recent fabrication ( R. v. Ellard, 2008 BCCA 341, at para. 85)

In respect of the use of such statement to rebut an allegation of recent fabrication, Frankel J.A. states, at para. 86:

Although, as in Stirling, the issue as to the admissibility of prior consistent statements most often arises when it is alleged that a witness has fabricated his or her evidence (i.e., is being deliberately untruthful), it also can arise when what is being attacked is the reliability or trustworthiness of his or her recollection of events (i.e., when it is alleged that the witness, although honest, is nevertheless mistaken). As Chief Justice Dixon of the High Court of Australia stated in Nominal Defendant v. Clements (1960), 104 C.L.R. 476 (Australia H.C.), at 479:

The rule of evidence under which a prior consistent statement] was let in is well recognized and of long standing. If the credit of a witness is impugned as to some material fact to which he deposes upon the ground that his account is a late invention or has been lately devised or reconstructed, even though not with conscious dishonesty, that makes admissible a statement to the same effect as the account he gave as a witness if it was made by the witness contemporaneously with the event or at a time sufficiently early to be inconsistent with the suggestion that his account is a late invention or reconstruction. [Emphasis added by Frankel J.A.]

If a party objects to the admissibility of evidence, then that objection should be made in a timely manner, namely at the time the evidence is tendered. This is particularly so in civil cases. As Chief Justice Macdonald stated in Hall v. Geiger, [1930] 3 D.L.R. 644 at 644 (B.C.C.A.), “The Court assumes that where no objection is taken to evidence, it is not regarded as of any prejudice to the defendant, the person who might have taken the objection.”

 For example, on the day of a car accident, the plaintiff made statements to his co-workers and to his wife about how the accident occurred.  Prior consistent statement evidence was introduced to admit these prior consistent statements, although the defendant submitted that all witnesses who gave those statements were not telling the truth.  The defendant also submitted the plaintiff reconstructed what happened after the fact in a manner that favours his desired outcome. The prior consistent statements are not admissible for the truth of their contents or to conclude the witness is telling the truth. However, they can be used to remove a potential motive to fabricate when assessing credibility.  If the prior statement was made before a motive to lie existed, then it can rebut a suggestion that the evidence given by the witness at trial is fabricated.




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