Evidence Law under Victoria's Charter
University of Melbourne
U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 260
In May 2004, the Victorian Government issued its Justice Statement, a Cabinet-approved vision for the Attorney-General's portfolio's next decade. For evidence lawyers, the most relevant of its twenty-five 'key initiatives' was the very first: to review and replace the Crimes Act 1958 and Evidence Act 1958, which contain the state's main statutory provisions on evidence. The fine print announced the government's proposal to implement legislation consistent with the model Evidence Acts that apply in five other Australian jurisdictions, which would mean that much of the common law of evidence would be abolished in Victoria.
Three years down the track, Victoria's new evidence legislation has not yet surfaced; however, a much more radical part of the Justice Statement has not only been enacted but is already partially in operation. Key initiative number eighteen proposed community consultation on human rights including the examination of options such as a charter of human rights and responsibilities. The dourly named Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities was on Victoria's statute books just over two years later.
This paper examines what the new Charter may mean for the future of Victoria's law of evidence, the first in Australia to be subjected to a comprehensive human rights regime. The discussion will proceed in two parts. First, the goals of evidence law will be compared with the rights promoted by the Charter. Second, the potential impact of the Charter's operative provisions on present and future evidence law in Victoria will be considered.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Victoria, Australia, charter, human rights, evidence, legislation
JEL Classification: K23
Date posted: September 17, 2007