In the Cairns Supreme Court, at the trial of Hunt v Lemura,1 His Honour Justice Henry allowed the tendering of a ‘Quantum Statement’ stating that to not do so would be an ‘unheralded abandonment’ of a ‘traditional practice’ of Judges from the central and northern registries.2
His Honour noted that while the tradition of tendering of Quantum Statements had been accepted for so long by Judges from the central and northern registries, the counsel before him were unable to find any published ruling about the admissibility of Quantum Statements.3 His Honour stated there was no past authority on which he could rely with respect to the admissibility of them or the allowable content.4
The acceptance of tendering of Quantum Statements by Judges in the central and northern registries first commenced under His Honour Justice Kneipp.5 In his speech delivered at the North Queensland Law Association Annual Conference at Mackay on 5 October 2003, His Honour Justice Dutney states:
Brisbane Judges still regard the use of a quantum statement as a rather quaint northern custom originally invented by Kneipp J. I must say that I regard them as extremely useful especially when I am not able to get to a judgment for a month or so and have largely forgotten the evidence. A well prepared quantum statement is always a better asset for the plaintiff than pages of semi-coherent quasi-English transcript. You might like to ask the Chief Justice while he’s here why they have never “caught on” in the metropolis…6
Quantum Statements can reduce the amount of time required for oral evidence and make it easier for plaintiffs who no longer need to provide all ‘dates, times, facts and figures’ in their oral testimony.7
Section 92(1)(a) of the Evidence Act 1977 (Qld) allows Quantum Statements to be tendered as evidence,8 and states:
In any proceeding (not being a criminal proceeding) where direct oral evidence of a fact would be admissible, any statement contained in a document and tending to establish that fact shall, subject to this part, be admissible as evidence of that fact if -
(a) the maker of the statement had personal knowledge of the matters dealt with by the statement, and is called as a witness in the proceeding.
The Defendant may object to the Quantum Statement being tendered under section 98 of the Evidence Act 1977 (Qld) which provides that:
The court may in its discretion reject any statement or representation notwithstanding that the requirements of this part are satisfied with respect thereto, if for any reason it appears to it to be inexpedient in the interests of justice that the statement should be admitted.10
The tendering of a Quantum Statement by the plaintiff has been accepted on many occasions by presiding Judges of Central and Northern registries without questioning their admissibility or what was allowable content.11 More recently, the tendering of a Quantum Statement was examined at length by His Honour Justice Henry in the Cairns Supreme Court in the ruling delivered in Hunt v Lemura12 on 4 October 2011 following objections to its tendering by counsel for the defendants.
Due to the longstanding history of the admissibility of Quantum Statements His Honour was careful to make it clear at the outset that the decision was not a blanket approval of all Quantum Statements but rather a determination of the Quantum Statement at hand.13 His Honour noted that the Quantum Statement included both quantum calculations and evidence of the plaintiff that could be adduced during examinationin- chief.14
His Honour acknowledged that section 92(1)(a) of the Evidence Act 1977 (Qld) only allows the admission of the components of Quantum Statements that the plaintiff could give as evidence-in-chief.15 There was recognition that he could not act upon the quantum calculations as evidence.16 With respect to the quantum calculations, His Honour noted the existence of a discretion of the court to allow the entire Quantum Statement to be tendered under rule 394(1) of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld) (‘UCPR’)17 which states:
If a fact in issue is not seriously in dispute, or strict proof of a fact in issue might cause unnecessary or unreasonable expense, delay or inconvenience in a proceeding, the Court may order that evidence of the fact may be given at the trial or at any other stage of the proceeding in any way the Court directs.18
His Honour identified three options available to him. The first was to admit the Quantum Statement, the second was to reject the Quantum Statement and the third was to adjourn the trial so as to allow the plaintiff to reconfigure the evidence into an admissible form.19 His Honour acknowledged that rule 5(1) & (2) of the UCPR required him to consider which option was the most expedient.20
In determining which option was most expedient he also gave weight to the amount of content in the Quantum Statement that was in dispute.21 His Honour considered that refusing admission of the Quantum Statement would likely result in the plaintiff seeking an adjournment to organise for a much longer evidencein- chief whilst requesting the Quantum Statement to be reconfigured would also result in significant unnecessary delays.22
Despite the submissions of counsel for the defendants that the Quantum Statement was ‘not direct oral evidence’ of the plaintiff but rather ‘a contrived document probably authored by her lawyer’ and to allow it would be to allow ‘leading par excellence’, His Honour rejected these submissions23 and stated that:
The tender of a statement through section 92 with the statement’s author being called for cross-examination or the adducing of evidence-in-chief by affidavit with the author being produced for cross-examination are obviously legal exceptions to the traditional principle that evidence-in-chief should not be the product of leading.24
His Honour upheld counsel for the defendants objection to a statement by the plaintiff in which she used diagnostic information to describe her injuries on the grounds that it would not be allowed in evidencein- chief.25
The ruling of His Honour Justice Henry clearly shows that the traditional practice of tendering Quantum Statements will continue to remain an acceptable practice for trials in the Central and Northern Registries.
A copy of the decision of Hunt v Lemura26 can be found here.