1.8Perhaps in response to these concerns about how the new legislative scheme would “bed in”, a provision requiring periodic review of the Act was included. Section 202 reads:
An important issue arose in the select committee. The issue was how, once the legislation has been passed, we will ensure that it is kept up to date. That is an important factor, bearing in mind the legislative history of the Evidence Act, which was first enacted in 1908 then amended three or four times. The last real substantial amendment to the Evidence Act 1908 was the Evidence Amendment Act (No 2) of 1980. So periodic review of this kind of legislation raises important questions. Given the huge amount of work that has been done by the Law Commission over the years and, more recently, the excellent work by the ministry, it is important to ensure that the new legislation is kept up to date. On the other hand, we do not want to see regular amendments as soon as there has been a case on a particular aspect. In other words, the legislation will need to have time to settle down.
I commend this bill to the Committee as a good model for post-legislative review. I am not saying that it should be [in] all legislation, but, certainly, with this kind of legislation we do not want those finicky amendments that sometimes bedevil legislation. It will be good for the body that authored the reports that gave rise to the legislation to look at this legislation after it has been in operation for 5 years, and in a principled way go through the various provisions to see whether the sorts of innovations we have been talking about this afternoon actually work and, if they do not, what changes need to be made. So I simply say that it is a good and workable clause, and it will enable this very important area of the law to be kept up to date, not in a piecemeal or an episodic fashion but in a principled way.
1.10In accordance with s 202, the Minister of Justice wrote to the Law Commission on 28 February 2012 to refer the matters outlined in s 202(1) for review. This report responds to that reference.