Recognition evidence

Recognition evidence is a subset of eyewitness identification evidence, in which the eyewitness’ identification is based on prior acquaintance. The recognition witness may or may not have been present at the scene of the crime.

As a form of identification evidence “[t]he same concerns apply and the same caution must be taken in considering its reliability as in dealing with any other identification evidence.” 
R. v. Olliffe, 2015 ONCA 242, at para. 39.

The test for admitting recognition evidence

This type of non-expert opinion evidence is admissible provided that the witness has a prior acquaintance with the accused and is thus in a better position than the trier of fact to identify the perpetrator.
R. v. Leaney, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 393;R. v. Brown, 215 C.C.C. (3d) 330 (Ont. C.A.), at para. 39.
The importance of identifying particular features or idiosyncrasies of the person to be identified

The importance of unique identifiable features varies with how well the witness knows the person he or she identifies:

Common experience teaches that people have vastly different abilities to identify and articulate the particular features of the people in their lives that they know, recognize, and distinguish on a regular basis. Where a witness has but little acquaintanceship with the accused, his or her recognition evidence may be of little value unless the witness can explain its basis in some considerable detail. But at the other end of the spectrum, the bare conclusory recognition evidence of a person long and closely familiar with the accused may have substantial value, even where the witness does not articulate the particular features or idiosyncrasies that underlie the recognition.

R. v. Panghali, [2010] B.C.J. No. 2729 at para. 42, a proposition endorsed in R. v. Berhe, 2012 ONCA 716, 113 O.R. (3d) 137.

The threshold admissibility of recognition evidence does not necessarily require a witness to point to some unique identifiable feature or idiosyncrasy of the person to be identified; however, where the eyewitness does not have a “long and closely familiar” relationship with the accused, the inability of the witness to do so is an important factor affecting the weight that the evidence should ultimately receive.

R. v. M.B., 2017 ONCA 653, at para. 47.