- Code LAWS6207
- Unit Value 6 units
Evidence law governs the use of proof in legal proceedings and answers important questions like: How much proof is enough? What will the jury be allowed to hear? And what kinds of proof can be used? Evidence law is also a major component of trial procedure, governing how proof is presented in a trial. The law of evidence regulates the emergence of the parties’ narratives; and decisions about evidentiary issues frequently determine which version of events is believed, what is considered ‘fact’ and what is not. Liberty, property, livelihoods and families can hang in the balance.
Understanding the law of evidence is integral to understanding the trial process and the development of all areas of substantive law. Evidence law is the lens through which the legal system views the “facts” of a case. Understanding how a record of evidence is developed will give you new insight into litigation processes and appellate decisions. It will also give you a new perspective on the adversarial system and the importance of advocacy. If you become a litigator or barrister someday, evidence law will be your bread and butter. If you never become a litigator, you will need to know evidence law in order to make appropriate decisions for clients who are not in litigation. Protecting your clients’ rights outside litigation may depend on your knowledge about what might be admissible if litigation were eventually employed. Even if you leave law and go into business or another field, understanding evidence will give you a new perspective on the nightly news.
This course is an introduction to the law of evidence. It covers important aspects of proof, admissibility, fact-finding, and the standards and procedures that are applied in legal proceedings. While it would be possible (and fascinating) to take a philosophical approach to evidence issues, this course takes a practical approach. It will require you to participate in discussion, present arguments, think on your feet, and make strategic decisions. You should leave the course with fluency in Uniform Evidence Law and with a strong understanding of the principles that undergird the rules of evidence and trial procedure in common law systems.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Formulate a plan for establishing each legal element of a case to the required standard of proof with admissible evidence when given a set of case file materials and a legal case to prove (e.g. negligence, defamation, theft, murder, etc.).
- Plan and execute a strategic witness examination that comports with evidentiary standards and that persuasively establishes a fact in issue in a case; anticipate and respond to evidentiary objections that may be raised during your examination.
- Identify, evaluate, articulate and assert appropriate evidentiary objections on examination of a witness; articulate the reasons for your objections and respond persuasively to questions from the judge.
- Critically analyse, draft and execute a witness examination for the introduction of an item of proof into evidence;
- Formulate, assert and support strategic objections to items of proof, using appropriate evidentiary rules and tailoring objections to the facts at hand;
- Use a variety of case file materials (witness statements, documents, etc.) to make a coherent and persuasive argument for the admission or exclusion of a specific item of evidence; select and incorporate factual information and legal standards drawn from both evidentiary rules and substantive law (such as criminal law or tort law).
- Analyse and apply evidentiary standards to a complex evidentiary issue; decide when further case law research is needed, conduct necessary research, evaluate case law, and present a persuasive argument for the admission or exclusion of the evidence.
- Articulate a coherent, objective decision on the admissibility of evidence; incorporate evidentiary standards, substantive law, principles of statutory construction and policy considerations in your decision.
- The assessment for this course will be by end of semester examination [Learning Outcomes 1, 5, 6 and 8], in class mock-trial or mooting exercise [Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6], and mid semester examination or assignment [Learning Outcomes 5, 7 and 8]. (null) [LO null]
- More information about the means of assessment, including the relationship between the assessment and the learning outcomes of the course, will be available on the WATTLE home page by the first week of semester. (null) [LO null]
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- Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours.
- Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have three contact hours per week.
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Requisite and Incompatibility
Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately two weeks prior to the commencement of the course. Alternatively, this information will be published in the Program course list when known.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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