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My legal matter concerning an application for a Domestic Violence Order was managed by Mr Thomas Allen. I am grateful for the outcome he obtained. Without Mr Allen and his ongoing support, I would be certain of a different result. It has been an extremely stressful period. Mr Allen’s astute ability to liaise on my behalf and his expertise was invaluable and for which I am grateful as I am now able to move forward. Thanking you
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Armstrong Legal and specifically Mr Thomas Allen for representing me in my recent case. At the outset, I would like to thank Mr Allen for the very professional delivery of his legal service. From the first time that I met Mr Allen, I was very impressed with his demeanour and delivery as he made me feel at ease knowing the severity of my case. Mr Allen not only gave me the possible positive outcomes of the case but also the realisation of the worst-case scenario as far as sentencing goes. … I will certainly be recommending Armstrong Legal to any of my friends or family needing representation in criminal matters. Thank you so very much.
Thank you for your representation and help. Fingers crossed for the next step and parole. I just want to say that from the first phone call to your office, your service has been outstanding and have put my mind at ease. I am glad I picked your number to ring.
Thank you Armstrong Legal, the lawyers that have helped over the past 3 years but more importantly, thank you to Thomas Allen for the major part you and Mr Buckland played. Cannot thank you enough. Cheers.
Hi all. I would like to thank Ms Lisa Riley for all her help with my legal issues this past month. It was the most harrowing experience of my life and thanks to her expertise, professionalism and knowledge of the law, I came out almost unscathed. I have no hesitation in recommending Lisa Riley and Armstrong Legal if you need help. The service is amazing and the cost was very minimal for the great outcome. Thank you Lisa for helping me in the most difficult time.
I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. My whole life I was thrown away, you made me feel like I did mean something. I could not have asked for a better lawyer. Your compassion and love for your job is inspiring. Your upfront and honesty were muchly appreciated, you are a beautiful person. Thank you for not giving up on me and thank you for all the work you put in. I wish you all the best for the future and I will be recommending you to everyone I know. You're amazing!!!!
I just wanted to thank you for representing me on Monday, I was overjoyed & relieved with the outcome. I don’t think it could have gone any better. All the best, I hope you got to celebrate this one instead after work, you forever made a difference in my life.
I know I thanked you before we parted company but please allow me to reiterate in writing my sincere deepest thanks for defending me in court today. … Armstrong Legal certainly has a great Lawyer you are a credit to the company and I'm quite sure you will secure a very successful future! … My Kindest Regards and Thanks
Throughout Angela has been the consummate professional. She maintained a calm, yet strong demeanour remained informative and completely open in her communication and took complete ownership of the situation. We felt confident we finally had an advocate to steer us out of the nightmare we were in, and she did so with great respect and sincerity. I cannot speak more highly of Angela. She has literally rescued our family from what looked very much like a hopeless future.
Words can’t describe how grateful I am to Trudie Cameron being my solicitor and to Andrew Tiedt presenting my case in the court. They both have been very supportive and amazingly professional and effective. I’ve got an absolutely fantastic outcome I couldn’t even dream about.
Soon after meeting Andrew I knew he was the solicitor I wanted to handle my matter. He immediately sprang into action which brought me stability and hope during a tumultuous time in my life. Andrew was never afraid to give me straight answers to my tough questions which is a true mark of integrity. He is clearly at ease in the court environment and I believe his calm and measured demeanour went a long way to helping me secure the best result from my day in court. I would certainly recommend you approach Andrew if you need assistance.
"Andrew Tiedt was very professional and considerate to personal circumstances and gave sound advice that resulted in the best outcome possible. Highly recommended."
Competence and Compellability of Witnesses
Under the Evidence Act 1995, there is a presumption that everyone is competent to give sworn evidence in a legal proceeding and any competent person can be compelled to be a witness. However, this presumption can be rebutted by a party demonstrating that the person called as a witness lacks capacity. The act also sets up exceptions to the rule that everyone is a competent witness. This article outlines the rules surrounding the competence and compellability of witnesses.
When does a person lack competence?
A person is not a competent witness if they do not have the capacity to understand or answer questions about the facts at issue in the proceeding and this incapacity cannot be overcome. This may be because of a disability because the person is a very young child or for some other reason.
Competence must not be confused with credibility. A witness with poor powers of observation or an imperfect memory does not lack competence. Competence refers to whether a person can function as a witness.
A person may be competent as a witness in relation to some matters but not others.
The issue of whether a person is a competent witness is for the magistrate or judge to decide on the balance of probabilities. If the matter is being decided by a jury, the judge must decide the issue of the competence of a witness in the jury’s absence.
Competence and Unsworn evidence
At common law, a person is only competent as a witness if they can give sworn evidence. This means they need to be able to understand the oath or affirmation. However, under Section 13 of the Evidence Act, a person who cannot give sworn evidence because they do not understand the oath or affirmation can still give unsworn evidence.
Before a witness can give unsworn evidence, they must:
- Be told that it is important to tell the truth;
- Be told that they may be asked questions they do not know the answer to and that they should tell the court if this occurs;
- Be told not to feel pressured to agree with statements that are not true.
When is a person not compellable?
There are a number of situations set out in the Evidence Act where a person is not compellable as a witness.
Under Section 14, a person is not a compellable witness if the court considers that there would be a substantial cost or delay involved in ensuring that they understand and can answer questions and there has already been adequate evidence given on the matter by others.
A defendant is not a compellable witness against a co-defendant.
A spouse, de facto partner, parent or child of the accused may object to being required to give evidence for the prosecution. A person who makes such an objection must not be required to give the evidence if the court finds:
- there is a likelihood doing so would harm the person or their relationship with the accused; and
- that harm outweighs the desirability of the evidence being given.
In determining this, the court must consider the offence for which the accused is being tried, the nature of the evidence the witness is expected to give and whether any other evidence is available. The court must also consider the relationship between the person and the accused and whether giving evidence would necessarily involve them to disclose matters told to them in confidence.
The following persons are not compellable to give evidence under section 15 of the act:
- The sovereign;
- The governor-general;
- The Administrator of a Territory;
- The Governor of a state;
- The head of state of another country.
Members of parliament are also not compellable witnesses where attending to give evidence would prevent them from attending parliament or a meeting of a parliamentary committee.
Compelling a person to give evidence
When a party requires a person to attend to give evidence in a proceeding, it issues a subpoena for the person to attend court. A person who has received a subpoena must attend court on the specified date and if they fail to do so, the court may issue a warrant for their arrest. If a person who is subpoenaed to give evidence believes they are not compellable as a witness, they must attend court and inform the court of this.
If a person is compellable, they must answer all the lawful questions that are put to them. A person who refuses to answer a lawful question may be charged with contempt of court.
If you require legal advice or representation in a criminal law matter or in any other legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.
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