Keeping Up Is Hard to Do:
A Trial Judge’s Reading Blog

R. v. M.D., 2021 BCCA 339, September 24, 2021, at paragraph 56:

Assessing credibility may be particularly challenging and nuanced when it involves a child witness.  Judges evaluate the evidence of young children differently from the evidence of adults: R. v. Hernandez-Lopez, 2020 BCCA 12 at para. 8.  For example, courts have long recognized that children may experience the world differently than adults and, therefore, details like the time, place and frequency of events may be missing from their recollections because such details may be less important to them.  In addition, child witnesses may be more prone to suggestibility and less able to express themselves precisely than adult witnesses: W.(R.) at 133; Hernandez-Lopez at paras. 9, 18–21.  This does not mean that the evidence of children is subject to a different standard of proof than the evidence of adults, but it does mean that when assessing the credibility of child witnesses trial judges should approach their evidence on a “common sense” basis, bearing in mind its strengths and weaknesses in each case.  In particular, when the credibility of a child witness is determined “the presence of inconsistencies, particularly as to peripheral matters such as time and location, should be considered in the context of the age of the witness at the time of the events to which [the witness] is testifying”: W.(R.) at 134.