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Commencement Of Law Commission’s Review Of The Evidence Act


Commencement Of Law Commission’s Review Of The Evidence Act 2006

The Law Commission is seeking public input into its review of the Evidence Act 2006 – the law which governs what information can be put before the court in criminal and civil trials.

A five yearly review of the Act is required by law, providing an opportunity for the public and stakeholders to raise any concerns about how the Act is operating and to comment on whether any of its provisions should be amended or repealed.

Among those provisions are the rules which determine when a defendant’s previous convictions are admissible in their present trial, when hearsay statements can be produced in court, and how witnesses are questioned.

The Act arose out of an Evidence Code produced by the Law Commission in 1999 after a decade of research and consultation with special interest groups and individuals.

Law Commission President, Hon Sir Grant Hammond, said initial consultation suggested the Act, which has been in force for five years, has generally worked well and the courts have been able to solve most of the problems that had arisen.

“However, this is the opportunity to review the solutions that the courts have arrived at, and it may be that in some matters legislative intervention is required.”

The issues surrounding the disclosure of previous convictions have already been considered by the Law Commission in its 2008 report Disclosure to Court of Defendants’ Previous Convictions, Similar Offending, and Bad Character (NZLC R103, 2008). The present review would build on this report.
The Law Commission stressed that the objective of the review was to assess how well the Act was functioning and did not extend to revisiting major policy questions such as whether there should be an Evidence Act, nor was it a forum to re-litigate decided cases.

For those wishing to make a submission regarding the operation of the provisions of the Act, the Law Commission has created a template form that can be completed online, or is available for download, at www.lawcom.govt.nz. Alternatively, comments or feedback can be emailed to evidenceact@lawcom.govt.nz or sent by post to Evidence Act Review, Law Commission, Level 19, 171 Featherston Street, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6011.

The closing date for submissions is 1 June 2012. The Law Commission is to report to the Minister by 28 February 2013.


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