Law Commission publishes recommendations on Evidence Act and family and sexual violence

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The Law Commission has published the final report from its review of the Evidence Act 2006. 

Parliament requires the Law Commission to review the Evidence Act every five years. This is the second review of the Act. As part of the review, the Law Commission was asked to take a specific look at rules of evidence related to sexual and family violence.

The report, The Second Review of the Evidence Act 2006 – Te Arotake Tuarua i te Evidence Act 2006 (2019) has 27 recommendations. The report also includes a draft Evidence Amendment Bill which proposes changes to the Act.

The Law Commission media release provides a brief summary of the recommendations.

A number of recommendations relate to sexual and family violence cases, including recommendations in relation to:

  • Evidence of sexual experience
  • Giving evidence in sexual and family violence cases
  • Unacceptable questioning
  • Myths and misconceptions in sexual and family violence cases
  • Judicial directions on the impact of significant delay

The Commission has also recommended that the five yearly periodic reviews of the Evidence Act are no longer required and should not be mandated.

For more information, see the Law Commission webpage on the Second Review of the Evidence Act 2006.

For background information about the review and issues that have been raised around victims' experiences in the sexual and family violence justice system, see our previous story Law Commission seeking submissions on Evidence Act.

In 2015, the Law Commission published its report Justice Response to Victims of Sexual Violence: Criminal Trials and Alternative Processes (2015). The Second Review of the Evidence Act 2006 report notes that the Government is still considering these recommendations.

Related news

As part of the Government's work on criminal justice reform, Chief Victims Advisor Kim McGregor hosted a two day workshop focused on victims of crime in March 2019. Dr McGregor shared preliminary findings from the survey of victims about their experiences with the justice system. Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice for family and sexual violence Jan Logie spoke at the workshop about the Government's work to improve the justice system for victims. For more information see our news story Government hosts workshop on strengthening criminal justice system for victims

Related media 

Victim advocates call for safeguards ahead of gunman’s trial, Newsroom, 20.03.2019

Justice Minister welcomes Evidence Act Review, Beehive press release, 13.03.2019

Law Commission recommends tighter controls for evidence in sexual and family violence cases, NZ Herald, 13.03.2019

Victims' sexual 'reputation' should be off-limits - Law Commission, Newstalk ZB, 13.03.2019