Evident that improvements to Evidence Act needed

  • Hon Andrew Little

Further changes will be made to the Evidence Act 2006, announced Minister of Justice Andrew Little today.

The Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report ‘The Second Review of the Evidence Act 2006’ was tabled in Parliament today.

The Law Commission’s report on its review was published in March 2019. The purpose of the review was to consider how the Act is operating in practice and report to the Minister of Justice on whether any changes are necessary or desirable.

“The Government accepts the Law Commission’s conclusion that the Act is generally working well, but that some improvements are needed”, says Andrew Little.

“This includes ensuring that the Act works better for certain groups, such as complainants and witnesses in sexual violence and family violence cases.

“Sexual and family violence is taken very seriously by this government and we are already progressing six of the Law Commission’s recommendations relating to this, in whole or in part. These will be included in legislation to be introduced later this year.

“We have also accepted a further twelve recommendations, including that the Evidence Regulations 2007 be reviewed and modernised.

“These changes will help us towards our overall goal of reforming and improving the justice system for all of the participants within it,” says Andrew Little.  

Among the report’s 27 recommendations are reforms to improve the court process for victims of sexual and family violence, better deal with unacceptable questioning of witnesses, and ensure that defendants’ rights to a fair trial are preserved.

The Government will consider the remaining recommendations in the coming months. Some of them will have implications for how the courts operate that need to be given further thought. Next steps include developing legislation to make further amendments to the Evidence Act, and undertaking a review of the Evidence Regulations 2007. The legislation is expected to be introduced in 2020.

The Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report is attached.