LAWS5107 Evidence

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Evidence is about the adversarial trial which is our society's primary, ultimate mechanism for determining disputed facts for the purpose of assigning legal liability. The study of the rules of evidence is an examination of procedure and substance. The unit looks at a set of rules which determine the process of a trial and which embodies theories of knowledge and morality—How best do we arrive at a truth? How best do we balance truth and fairness? At a trial, two conflicting stories are told and after hearing the stories, a fact-finder (jury, judge or magistrate) must say 'yes' or 'no' to the story told by the prosecution/plaintiff. It matters, in determining that 'yes' or 'no', what information the fact-finder is allowed to hear, what use they are allowed to make of what they hear, and even how sure they need to be in order to say 'yes'. It is the rules of evidence which determine these things. Students learn the major rules of evidence governing a trial in Western Australia and make comparisons with rules from other jurisdictions. They extend skills of case analysis, legal reasoning and statutory interpretation by considering hypothetical scenarios—Is certain evidence admissible? If so, how can it be used and by whom? Is there enough evidence? Can it be countered? Students extend skills of legal reasoning and critical analysis by exploring the concept of a fair trial as it appears in specific principles and underpins the system of evidence rules as a whole.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of (a) evidence law pursuant to the common law and Evidence Act 1906 (WA); (b) the historical origins of particular rules of evidence; (c) the role played by the rules of evidence in proof in different forums; (d) the impact of the rules of evidence when preparing a matter for trial; (e) the significance of differences between state, interstate and Commonwealth rules of evidence and of the potential impact of international developments in evidence; and (f) the evidential requirements and analysis necessary for the purposes of proving a case; (2) demonstrate an appreciation for the potential impact of national and international developments and reforms in evidence; (3) demonstrate an appreciation and understanding of (a) the ethical issues associated with the laws of evidence that constitute the trial; and (b) the fundamental role played by the laws of evidence in determining the proper administration of justice; (4) identify evidence needed to prove a client's case or disprove an opponent's case, according to the rules of evidence, and understand and apply the rules of evidence to diverse factual scenarios; (5) demonstrate an ability to (a) engage in legal research at an advanced level using primary and secondary sources, in text and electronic forms and use appropriate and correct citation methods; and (b) engage in research in related disciplines in order to further an understanding of evidence law in its social context; (6) write a clear and concise answer to a hypothetical legal problem; and (7) demonstrate an appreciation of court etiquette and basic courtroom practice.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) research assignment; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Stella Tarrant and Aidan Ricciardo
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawerying
LAWS4102 Criminal Law
Contact hours
4 hours per week
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]

Field, D. and Offer, K. Western Australian Evidence Law: LexisNexis 2015

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
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  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.