Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 20 October 2011) . . Page.. 4766 ..
As part of the ACT evidence reforms, a small number of the provisions in the Evidence Act 1971 which were required to be preserved have been transferred to the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 and to other legislation in the ACT statute book where appropriate. For example, the second bill in the series of evidence reforms that have been debated in this place preserves provisions relating to the evidence of dangerously ill people. These provisions, currently contained in the Evidence Act 1971, will be moved to the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991.
This bill contains amendments to preserve the operation of the further provisions of the Evidence Act 1971 on its repeal. One amendment inserts a provision into the Administration and Probate Act 1929, which sets out how grants of probate or administration can be used in evidence; in particular, as evidence of the execution and the death or date of death of a person. The new provision replicates existing law and has not been changed with this transfer to the Administration and Probate Act 1929.
The bill also inserts a new provision into the Court Procedures Act 2001 to provide that where evidence is to be given by a witness in a criminal proceeding through an interpreter the prosecutor must provide a competent interpreter for the witness if the witness does not provide their own. This new provision replicates part of the existing law in the Evidence Act 1971 and updates it in accordance with human rights. The Court Procedures Act 2004 is the most appropriate location for the new provision, given its procedural nature. Finally, the bill preserves the operation of the existing law allowing entities other than ACT courts which are authorised to receive evidence to use interpreters.
The bill contains a further two amendments which I would like to bring to the attention of members. The first is the removal of chapter 6 of the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002. Chapter 6 contains a large number of provisions which concern the way in which expert medical evidence is received and treated in court. The types of rules contained in the chapter are concerned with the way in which the court controls the receipt of expert medical evidence, the assessment of its admissibility and the treatment of evidence given by experts. This body of law is more appropriately made at the court rules level, where the remainder of rules concerning expert witnesses are found.
A subcommittee of the court’s rule-making committee is currently developing rules to govern this area of the law, to be included in the court Procedures Rules 2006. There are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that chapter 6 will not be repealed until these rules have been made. This will ensure that the transition from the existing law to the court rules is a smooth one. The removal of this body of law and the introduction of rules governing this area of the law will enable better integration of court processes and will also enable the court to be dynamic in responding to the trends in this area.
The bill also includes a minor amendment to the new Evidence Act to further clarify its operation. Section 8 currently provides that the territory’s new Evidence Act does not affect the operation of provisions of other acts. To remove any doubt about the