A Bill seeking to introduce special measures that can be used to facilitate the giving of evidence by vulnerable witnesses and other witnesses specified, was tabled in the Senate on November 16.
The Evidence (Special Measures) Act 2012, was tabled by Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding.
According to the Memorandum of Objects and Reasons, provision is being made for the making of special measures or directions by the courts in criminal and civil proceedings and coroners' inquests.
The Bill notes that special measures would be used in instances where the witness is vulnerable, by virtue of being a child or is a complainant in criminal proceedings relating to a sexual offence.
Special measures will also be implemented in the case of a witness, whose evidence the court determines is unlikely to be available to the court, or the quality of evidence if given in court by the witness is likely to be diminished with regards to its completeness, coherence or accuracy by reason of fear or distress, or the fact that the witness suffers from a mental disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act or is suffering from a physical disorder.
The Bill also notes that in case of civil proceedings or a Coroner’s inquest, the court may direct that a special measure shall apply in relation to a witness, if the court is satisfied that it is necessary to do so, in the interest of the administration of justice.
"In each case the court must ensure that arrangements to implement the special measures are available to the court, before direction is issued. Rules of the court may be made to ensure practical implementation of these special measures," the Bill points out.