Pre-requisite: LAW1202 and LAW2205
Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at http://www.usq.edu.au/ict/students/standards/default.htm.
Evidence law concerns the rules and principles that govern what information can be used in court proceedings, who can use it and how it can be used. These rules pervade the operation of all areas of law in which an issue may come before a court for determination. Therefore, understanding the rules of evidence is critical for all lawyers practising in a field in which disputes of fact may arise. This is effectively any area of law. Criminal cases are the most heavily governed by laws of evidence, but these rules are also important for civil law, including contractual disputes, claims for damages for negligence and defamation. Although evidence law is largely procedural, its application can have a profound effect on the outcome of a case. In particular, rules governing admissibility determine the evidence juries are allowed to hear and judges are permitted to take into account when reaching a verdict or deciding a fact in issue. This course examines those rules, including the rationales for their existence. Like laws in general, evidence law is a balance of competing considerations. These rules attempt to reconcile the court's inquiry for the truth on disputed issues with considerations of expediency, reliability, fairness and other public policy considerations. Social and ethical questions arise throughout the course. Students will learn about the trial process as well as how witnesses are allowed to deliver testimony, rules of admissibility, including exclusionary rules and judicial discretions. The various forms of privilege from giving evidence will be considered, especially legal professional privilege, knowledge of which is essential for any students intending to practise in the legal profession. The course will focus on the rules of evidence applicable in Queensland under the common law and Evidence Act 1977 (Qld). The comparable federal regime covered by the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) will also be considered. The information studied in this course is practical and aims to give students practical knowledge and skills to assist them in becoming competent practitioners.