Rules of Evidence

Past Judgments and Convictions

Exclusion of Evidence of Past Judgments and Convictions

Section 91 prohibits the admission of evidence of a past court decision, or or similar kinds of decisions as to facts, to prove the factuality of a point in issue in the current proceedings. So, for example, the mere fact that a person has been found guilty of a criminal trespass offence,  does not mean that they stand liable automatically when sued for the equivalent tort of trespass. The underlying facts, though all ready proven, need to be proven all over again in the subsequent civil trial. Likewise, if a person has been found liable for breach of contract, the existence of that finding cannot be used against them in a subsequent trial for some other fraud or contractual breach.

 

There is sometimes a possibility that a past finding can be admitted as evidence of some point, such that the essential facts of one matter do not stand to prove the essential facts of the current matter. Even when that occurs, however, this evidence cannot then be used to prove the central facts.

 

Exceptions

Exceptions are listed in sections 92 and 93. Those are:

  • A grant of probate, or letters of administration to prove death, the date of death or the due execution of a will are admissible.

  • In civil proceedings evidence of convictions of a party through or under whom another party claims are admissible.

  • Evidence of convictions can be admitted in defamation proceedings.

 

All statutory sections from unspecified Acts, are sections from a model Act of the Commonwealth Parliament as described on the first page of this chapter, and should be replicated as described in each of the related Acts of each State and Territory. (Jurisdiction to regulate the rules of evidence exists in the States and Territories and not in the Commonwealth).