Relevance Notes

Law Notes > LAWS 307 Law of Evidence Notes

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2 Relevance Starting point s 7 Evidence Act 2006 (EA): 7 (1)

Fundamental principle that relevant evidence admissible All relevant evidence is admissible in a proceeding except evidence that is---
(a) inadmissible under this Act or any other Act; or (b) excluded under this Act or any other Act. Evidence that is not relevant is not admissible in a proceeding. Evidence is relevant in a proceeding if it has a tendency to prove or disprove anything that is of consequence to the determination of the proceeding.

(2) (3)

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*

This is a low threshold for admissibility. Relevance is a "relational concept" (Mueller and Kirkpatrick) where one fact "renders probable the past, present or future existence or nonexistence of the other" (Stephen).

2.1 Therefore, before assessing relevance you must establish your ultimate issues Smith v The Queen: "In determining relevance, it is fundamentally important to identify what are the issues ... On a criminal trial the ultimate issues will be expressed in terms of the elements of the offence with which the accused stands charged." (HCA) Facts in issue are derived from the substantive law for civil and criminal law and must have an evidential foundation. You may have subordinate or collateral facts in issue such as the credibility of witnesses or ancillary rulings (where you must adduce some evidence in support of a copy). One may also try to prove subsidiary facts or circumstantial evidence: facts relevant to facts in issue. There are 3 categories:

* Preoffence conduct (prospectant evidence) - Joy v Phillips - involved a stable boy killed in his employment with no direct witnesses. One piece of prospectant evidence was that he was in the habit of teasing the horses. When combined with the generalisation that this would make it more likely for a horse to react, it was held relevant. He was also found with a halter in his hands making it more likely he was near the horses at the time of death.

* Contemporaneous conduct (concomitant evidence) o Woolf v Woolf - divorce proceedings requiring proof of fault/adultery. There was evidence that they were seen in bed together and shared a bedroom. Held to be relevant to inferring adultery. o Res gestae evidence - the thing done. Usually something required to be proved to make sense of a person's story.
? R v Olamoe - police arrived within minutes of domestic violence. They found a woman with injuries to her face and got a statement within 15 minutes. The court held this evidence to

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