Date01 July 2017
Published date01 July 2017
Subject MatterNoticeboard
Jeremy Gans
Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Law reform and source material
Victims – Australia
Victorian Law Reform Commission, The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process, Report,
August 2016, available at rojects/victims-crime-criminal-trial-process /
victims-crime-criminal-trial-process-pdf >
This final report by Victoria’s peak law reform agency sets out recommendations that aim to embed
the victim’s ‘evolving’ role in the criminal trial process, including recommending a new provision for
crime victims’ rights in Victoria’s human rights statute:
a. to be acknowledged as a participant (but not a party) with an interest in the proceedings
b. to be treated with respect at all times
c. to be protected from unnecessary trauma, intimidation and distress when giving evidence.
Other recommendations include: making the disallowance of improper questions mandatory for all
witnesses, not just vulnerable ones; repealing a provision allowing courts to order a victim to leave the
courtroom after he orshe has testified; requiring prosecutors to offer conferences to various categories of
victims before and after key court dates; providing legal aid for victims to assert substantive legal entitle-
ments and humanrights; requiring that prosecutors consultwith victims on various prosecutorial decisions;
providingnotice, advice and standing to victimsin relation to confidentialcorrespondence issues; requiring
that judges assess the admissibility of victim impact statements in light of their communicative purpose
and despiteany emotive or sensitive content;creating a witness intermediary scheme for childand disabled
victims; extending existing protective witness arrangements to a broader category of ‘protected victims’;
establishing a heightened test for leave to cross-examine victims at committal hearings; and extending
confidential communication protections to victims’ health information.
The admissibility and content of victim impact statements will also be considered in an inquiry by the
New South Wales Sentencing Council, announced at>.
Rules of evidence – Ireland
Law Reform Commission, Consolidation and Reform of Aspects of the Law of Evidence, Report, January
2017, available at
Corresponding author:
Jeremy Gans, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia.
The International Journalof
Evidence & Proof
2017, Vol. 21(3) 293–295
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/1365712717717871
This final report from Ireland’s peak law reform body as part of the its Third Programme of Law
Reform recommends a statute consolidating a large number of existing and new statutory evidence law
regimes, ‘a significant step towards achieving the long-standing and widely endorsed aspiration to move
towards a comprehensive statute or code on the law of evidence’ (but not itself a codification).
New provisions include:
providing for admissibility by agreement of parties (and, in criminal trials, the judge), without
prejudice to existing rules (including the discretion to exclude prejudicial evidence);
defininghearsaytomeanstatementsbynon-witnesses presented for their truth, other than
implied assertions that the maker could not be reasonably supposed to intend the hearer to
believe; presumptions of admissibility for business records and statements by children; a
judicial warning on the unreliability of dying declarations; abolishing exceptions for declara-
tions under a duty and as to pedigree; and providing for the continuing judicial development of
the law on hearsay;
providing a statutory definition of a document; abolition of the best evidence and original doc-
ument rules; and proof of voluminous documents via written summary; and statutory definition of
signatures, including equal effect to electronic and handwritten signatures;
providing a statutory definition of expertise, including expertise via experience; retaining the
foundational rules on expert evidence, including the common knowledge and ultimate issue rules;
rejection of a gate-keeping role for judges on the reliability of expert evidence; introduction of
statutory duties for experts, with trial judges empowered to exclude evidence where the duties are
breached; and partial abolition of civil immunity for expert witnesses.
An appendix to the report sets out a draft Evidence (Consolidation and Reform) Bill, including the
repeal of 18 existing statutes.
Search and surveillance – New Zealand
Law Commission, Review of the Search and Surveillance Act 2010, Issues Paper No. 40, November
2016, available at ¼1376>
This issues paper, from New Zealand’s peak law reform agency, sets out a series of consultation
questions on the possible reform of the nation’s principal statute governing search and surveillance. The
topics covered include the interaction of the statute with New Zealand’s law on privilege, including
whether there is or should be a role for the privilege against self-incrimination in the law on search and
surveillance, and whether there should be limits on the issuing of orders for production of documents
(including computer passwords) to people accused of a crime.
Forensic evidence – United States
National Commission on Forensic Science, Reflecting Back – Looking Toward the Future, April 2017,
available at
This is the final document of the peak United States advisory body on forensic science, whose
commission expired this year. The document summarises the work of the agency and identifies a
number of issues requiring further work, including: producing a curriculum for training forensic
science users, including lawyers and judges; making recommendations on how autopsy findings can
be presented to fact-finders; establishing research-based means for the communication of forensic
results to the judicial system and the public; and exploring the communication between the forensic
science and legal communities.
294 The International Journal of Evidence & Proof 21(3)
Altschuler G and Rossi F (2017) Ten Great American Trials. Washington, DC: ABA. ISBN:
9781634255929 (pbk), $35.
Chalmers J (2017) Scottish Evidence Law Essentials. 4th edn. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
ISBN: 9781474407786 (pbk), £16.
Dekle G (2017) Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln. Carbondale, IL: Southern
Illinois University Press. ISBN: 9780809335978 (hbk), $35.
Ferguson C and Milward D (2017) The Art of Science in the Canadian Justice System. Boca Raton, FL:
CRC Press. ISBN: 9781138626195 (pbk), £28.
Field D (2017) Queensland Evidence Law. 4th edn. Sydney: LexisNexis. ISBN: 9780409345629 (pbk),
Feigenson N (2016) Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago
Press. ISBN: 9780226413730 (hbk), $45.
Medwed D (ed.) (2017) Wrongful Convictions and the DNA Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press. ISBN: 9781107129962 (hbk), £80.
Norris R (2017) Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement. New York: NYU Press. ISBN:
9781479886272 (hbk), $35.
Petrovic V (2016) The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise. New York/Abingdon: Routledge.
ISBN: 9781138690646 (hbk), £88.
Roberts A and Gans J (2017) Critical Perspectives on the Uniform Evidence Law. Annandale, NSW:
Federation. ISBN: 9781760021368 (hbk), $A165.
Terblanche S and Naude´ B (2017) The Law of Evidence. 5th edn. Cape Town: Juta. ISBN:
9781485119562 (pbk), R550.
Weinstein J, et al. (2017) Evidence. Foundation. ISBN: 9781609303433 (hbk), $225.
Wells C (2017) Abuse of Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780198786047 (pbk), £60.
Gans 295

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