The Federation Press

Uniform Evidence Law

Text and Essential Cases


The third edition of Uniform Evidence Law: Text and Essential Cases continues the style of integrated discussion of evidence law from the earlier editions of this work resulting in a seamless synthesis and analysis of this significant area of law and practice. A critical and comparative analysis of the provisions of the uniform Evidence Acts and relevant evidentiary principles is undertaken to provide the reader with important insights into the practical operation of the legislation and to consider the ongoing relevance of the common law and other sources of law in certain areas. Six of the Australian jurisdictions have now joined the uniform evidence legislative scheme and the most recent cases and legislative amendments have been incorporated to ensure the most up-to-date coverage of the law in all of the uniform Evidence Act jurisdictions. This includes some important divergences in interpretation of the ‘uniform’ legislation, particularly in NSW and Victoria in relation to the assessment of probative value for the purposes of ss 135 and 137.

The case extracts provide a useful mix of seminal and recent decisions to reflect the most current judicial interpretations of the uniform Evidence Acts and judicial statements of evidentiary principles. The chapter order from the second edition has been retained to closely reflect the structure of the uniform Evidence Acts and the incremental topic sequencing of most university undergraduate courses in evidence law.

Uniform Evidence Law is an essential tool and will enhance the understanding of the practical operation of evidence law in the various litigation contexts in which it arises.


Evatt J said in R v War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal; Exparte Bott (1933) 50 CLR 228 at 256 that “the rules of evidence … represent the attempt made, through many generations, to evolve a method of inquiry best calculated to prevent error and elicit truth”. The rules of evidence ensure that the information put before a Court are logically probative of an issue and are not attended by undesirable features such as unreliability and unfairness. Of course, legislative changes are sometimes required. That said, when there are wholesale changes as occurred in relation to the various Uniform Evidence Acts, a whole new period of adjustment will be required. This text is concerned with the Uniform Evidence Acts and is directed toward teaching tertiary students. As a consequence there is basic, but important information to explain the relationship between the rules of evidence and the conduct of a trial, burden of proof, hearsay, opinion and the various exclusionary rules. It is nevertheless comprehensive and is a handy resource for practitioners. It is well referenced with up-to-date authorities and its text is well presented and easy to access. Most importantly, it offers practical answers to some of the more difficult questions which arise in relation to evidence. It is a very useful reference tool. The paperback form makes it easy to carry as compared to the other more bulky loose leaf services. - Queensland Law Reporter – 13 May 2016 – [2016] 18 QLR

Reviews of previous editions:

Uniform Evidence Law is an essential tool and will enhance the understanding of the practical operation of evidence law in the various litigation contexts in which it arises. - Law Society of South Australia

With their concise and tight style of analysis on all aspects of the trial process, the learned authors have been able to seamlessly remind the reader at every turn of the page of both the scope and applicability of the Uniform Evidence Acts. As they note, "Evidence issues arise in all trials." (Appeals in Criminal Cases, p40.) In these days of increasing legal homogeneity anyone with a criminal or civil-based litigious practice should ensure that this easy-to-use, breeze to carry, soft-covered text is in the robe-bag. - Law Society of Western Australia, October 2009

Sometimes, and this is one of them, it is excruciatingly difficult to commence a book review, not because of the lack of quality of the publication, but because it is so good you fear that you will not do it justice. We are all coming to grips with some changed concepts in applying the law of evidence. For those of us who studied the subject many years ago and have practised its use on a daily basis, we perhaps feel like the cricketer who is told that the pitches will from now on be metric. They are almost what you are used to, but in subtle ways they are different. This is the second book that I have reviewed dealing with the uniform evidence law but this one deals with the nuts and bolts of it, rather than trying to compare differences between the old and the new or between States. The name does not say it all. It is much more than text accompanied by essential cases. The author has on a number of occasions, considered and dissected decisions, including relatively recent High Court decisions and, by analysis, suggested that in some cases their rationale is perhaps flawed or that subsequent decisions might see the interpretation of the Act, applied differently in the future. This is not an annotation of the Act, but more an in depth analysis of issues such as credibility, hearsay, prior inconsistent statements, prior consistent statements, admissions and denials, identification evidence, witnesses and privileges and the course of trial. On occasions the author considers sections of the Act in a group, particularly when looking at issues such as hearsay statements which may be admissible under one of several sections of the Act. Similarly, he has discussed a number of decisions, which have included, where appropriate, the summing up of the trial judge, so that practitioners may more readily understand in simple terms, how judges have explained the application of the various provisions of the Act, to the particular factual circumstances. This is a first rate book. I can only echo the sentiments of Justice Carolyn Simpson who said in the foreword, "I commend Peter Bayne for this worthwhile attempt to refine the principles under which we now must act, and look forward personally to benefiting, in a practical way, from his efforts in this regard." - Tasmanian Law Society Newsletter, February 2004

This is a good book. … It is always a pleasure to read texts such as Peter Bayne’s where one can understand the point in a paragraph without multiple re-readings. Quite clearly, if you reside in uniform evidence law jurisdictions, this text is an excellent one … this text is also of vital importance for those who serve in the Australian Defence Force, who have to deal with the matters that arise out of the Defence Force Discipline Act. … I would highly recommend this text … - Ethos (Law Society of the ACT), March 2004

Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition

Table of Cases
Table of Statutes


Relevance and Fact-Finding
Some Basics about Trials and Appeals
Resolving Factual Uncertainty
Exclusion of Admissible Evidence and Limiting Directions
Witnesses and Privileges
The Course of the Trial
Documentary and Real Evidence
The Hearsay Rules
Opinion Evidence
Estoppels, and Convictions and Judgments as Evidence
The Credibility of a Witness
The Character of the Accused
Tendency and Coincidence Evidence
Identification Evidence

Appendix -Parts 1 and 2 of the Dictionary to the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) (Selected parts)


Of interest...