Inadmissible evidence refers to evidence that cannot be relied on in court for various legal reasons.
The rules of evidence in federal courts are set out in the Evidence Act 1995 of the Commonwealth. In NSW state courts, the Evidence Act 1995 (NSW) applies. The NSW Evidence Act generally mirrors the admissibility requirements established in the Commonwealth Evidence Act.
Here are some examples of inadmissible evidence (subject to specific exceptions) pursuant to the Evidence Act 1995:
- Illegally obtained evidence (s 138): evidence that was obtained illegally, such as evidence obtained through a warrantless search or evidence obtained through coercion.
- Privileged communication (s 118): communications between a lawyer and client for the dominant purpose of providing legal advice to the client are protected by legal professional privilege.
- Hearsay evidence (s 59): hearsay evidence refers to evidence that is based on what someone else said, rather than on what the witness personally experienced.
- Opinion evidence (s 76): this refers to evidence that expresses an opinion rather than facts (it does not include expert opinion, which is admissible).
- Tendency (s 97): tendency evidence refers to evidence which suggests that a person has a tendency or disposition to act in a particular way, based on their past behaviour. This type of evidence is not admissible unless the party seeking to adduce the evidence gave reasonable notice of it in writing to the other party and the court found that it has significant probative value.
- Coincidence (s 98): coincidence evidence refers to evidence that suggests a connection between two or more events or circumstances, based on their similarities, to prove that a person did a particular act or had a particular state of mind. This type of evidence is not admissible unless the party seeking to adduce the evidence gave reasonable notice of it in writing to the other party and the court found that it has significant probative value.
- Credibility evidence (s 102): evidence that is relevant only to attack the credibility of a witness or person is not admissible.