The Law Commission has given the Evidence Act 2006 a warrant of fitness in the first of the mandatory five year reviews provided for in the legislation.
The Commission proposes some fine tuning but generally finds that the Act has “overwhelmingly met” the purposes it was designed to achieve and the needs of those who use it.
The Commission’s report was presented to the government in late February and is still awaiting the government’s response. The Commission finds that the Act has overcome the historical difficulty that much of the previous law of evidence was contained in court decisions and could be hard to access or distil. The Act instead provides a single point of reference for the admissibility of evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. The Commission’s recommendations are mostly technical and are aimed at:
- clarifying provisions and removing ambiguities
- reflecting the drive towards plain language drafting, and
- providing for the ongoing or future review of certain areas of the Act such as its preliminary sections.
However, the Commission also recommends that section 35, dealing with prior consistent statements, be repealed now on the basis that such statements could be determined by application of the Act’s general admissibility principles.
This proposal will be of most relevance to practitioners involved in criminal proceedings.
The report is a valuable resource which is likely to be of considerable value to the profession for years to come.