A Working Guide to Uniform Evidence Law

Introduction

This Working Guide to Uniform Evidence Law started life as a series of answers to the seen questions for the February 2013 NSW Bar Exams. However, after answering all those questions it became apparent that they could well form the basis of a working guide to the law of evidence.

In preparing the answers, and therefore this guide, resort was had to Odgers’ Uniform Evidence Act, 9th ed, the NSW Judicial Commission’s Civil Trials Bench Book and John Stratton’s Criminal Law Survival Kit.

What is Uniform Evidence Law?

In the 1980s, the Australian Law Reform Commission undertook an extensive review of the law of evidence in federal and Territory courts. This resulted in two reports: ALRC Interim Report, Evidence (ALRC 26) (1985); and a final report, Evidence (ALRC 38) (1987), which recommended a uniform law of evidence to apply across all Australian courts.

Since 1995, NSW and the Commonwealth have had legislation in place which prescribes (almost) identical rules covering the law of Evidence in their courts. In 2001, Tasmania passed similar legislation. Victoria joined in 2008.

Because this guide came about strictly for the purposes of practice in NSW, no specific mention is made of the Victorian Act. However, where relevant Victorian CCA cases, such as Dupas, are discussed. having spent a significant period of time in Tasmania, relevant Tasmanian cases are also discussed.

I have broken it up in accordance with the various chapters of the Act. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Admissibility is the biggest section, and may need to be broken up further in the future.

Sections

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