Section 202(1) of the Evidence Act required the Commission to report to the Minister of Justice on the following matters:
(a) the operation of the provisions of the Act since its commencement;
(b) whether those provisions should be retained or repealed; and
(c) if they should be retained, whether any amendments to the Act are necessary or desirable.
This was not intended to be a first principles review, but rather was an operational review, focusing on whether the Act is working as intended and what, if anything, should be done to address any problems or improve its operation.
The Commission has now delivered this Report. A clear message was received in consultation that the Act is generally working well and there is widespread acceptance of the value of codification of the law in this area. The Report recommends a relatively small number of amendments. These are largely minor, “fine tuning” matters that will improve the performance of the Act or put beyond doubt matters that may be open to question. There is only one recommendation that can properly be described as substantive and that relates to the provision in the Act that governs the admissibility of previous consistent statements made by witnesses. The interpretation and application of this provision has proven difficult. The Commission recommends repealing the provision in question and leaving the admissibility of such statements to be determined under the more general rules governing admissibility of evidence.
The Commission’s Report, The 2013 Review of the Evidence Act 2006 (NZLC R127, 2013), was sent to the Minister of Justice on 26 February 2013. The Evidence Amendment Bill was introduced in May 2015 and received Royal Assent on 22 September 2016. You can view the Report here.
The next report under s 202(1) of the Act will fall due by February 2019 at the latest.