(Un-)Interpretability in Expert Evidence: An Inquiry into the Frontiers of Evidential Assessment


  • Alex Biedermann University of Lausanne, Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0271-5152
  • Kyriakos N. Kotsoglou Northumbria University, Faculty of Law & Business



Evidence law regimes across several contemporary legal orders provide a host of doctrinal devices designed to probe various sorts and sources of information, especially with respect to their accuracy and reliability. These legal provisions, however, are vulnerable to or even tolerant towards uninterpretable evidence, that is evidence whose probative value cannot be assessed. This article critically examines and discusses the “littering paths” of uninterpretable evidence in legal proceedings. We point out the misinformative character and potentially misleading impact on criminal adjudication when using scientific evidence for purposes that, strictly speaking, the evidence cannot help with. We identify common causes and possible remedies and argue that to track uninterpretability, it is necessary to understand what exactly it means to say that a piece of evidence is probative in the procedural space of reasons, and how to draw the line between informative and non-informative items of evidence.

Palabras clave

Scientific evidence, Interpretability, Probative value, Propositions, Forensic science


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Biografía del autor/a

Alex Biedermann, University of Lausanne, Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration

Alex Biedermann, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the School of Criminal Justice of the Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration of the University of Lausanne (Lausanne, Switzerland). Alex Biedermann's research and teaching activities concentrate on formal methods for evidential reasoning and decision-making in forensic science. He is a committee member of the Statistics and Law Section of the Royal Statistical Society, and a councillor of the International Association of Evidence Science. For an overview of Alex's current research programme NORMDECS (Normative Decision Structures of Forensic Interpretation in the Legal Process), see http://www.unil.ch/forensicdecision.

Kyriakos N. Kotsoglou, Northumbria University, Faculty of Law & Business

Dr. Kyriakos N. Kotsoglou, LL.M, FHEA, Senior Lecturer in Law (Criminal Evidence), Northumbria University, School of Law, Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.





Cómo citar

Biedermann, A., & Kotsoglou, K. N. (2021). (Un-)Interpretability in Expert Evidence: An Inquiry into the Frontiers of Evidential Assessment. Quaestio Facti. Revista Internacional Sobre Razonamiento Probatorio, (3), 483–517. https://doi.org/10.33115/udg_bib/qf.i3.22599