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EVIDENCE ACT 1995 - SECT 131

Exclusion of evidence of settlement negotiations

             (1)  Evidence is not to be adduced of:

                     (a)  a communication that is made between persons in dispute, or between one or more persons in dispute and a third party, in connection with an attempt to negotiate a settlement of the dispute; or

                     (b)  a document (whether delivered or not) that has been prepared in connection with an attempt to negotiate a settlement of a dispute.

             (2)  Subsection (1) does not apply if:

                     (a)  the persons in dispute consent to the evidence being adduced in the proceeding concerned or, if any of those persons has tendered the communication or document in evidence in another Australian or overseas proceeding, all the other persons so consent; or

                     (b)  the substance of the evidence has been disclosed with the express or implied consent of all the persons in dispute; or

                     (c)  the substance of the evidence has been partly disclosed with the express or implied consent of the persons in dispute, and full disclosure of the evidence is reasonably necessary to enable a proper understanding of the other evidence that has already been adduced; or

                     (d)  the communication or document included a statement to the effect that it was not to be treated as confidential; or

                     (e)  the evidence tends to contradict or to qualify evidence that has already been admitted about the course of an attempt to settle the dispute; or

                      (f)  the proceeding in which it is sought to adduce the evidence is a proceeding to enforce an agreement between the persons in dispute to settle the dispute, or a proceeding in which the making of such an agreement is in issue; or

                     (g)  evidence that has been adduced in the proceeding, or an inference from evidence that has been adduced in the proceeding, is likely to mislead the court unless evidence of the communication or document is adduced to contradict or to qualify that evidence; or

                     (h)  the communication or document is relevant to determining liability for costs; or

                      (i)  making the communication, or preparing the document, affects a right of a person; or

                      (j)  the communication was made, or the document was prepared, in furtherance of the commission of a fraud or an offence or the commission of an act that renders a person liable to a civil penalty; or

                     (k)  one of the persons in dispute, or an employee or agent of such a person, knew or ought reasonably to have known that the communication was made, or the document was prepared, in furtherance of a deliberate abuse of a power.

             (3)  For the purposes of paragraph (2)(j), if commission of the fraud, offence or act is a fact in issue and there are reasonable grounds for finding that:

                     (a)  the fraud, offence or act was committed; and

                     (b)  a communication was made or a document was prepared in furtherance of the commission of the fraud, offence or act;

the court may find that the communication was so made or the document so prepared.

             (4)  For the purposes of paragraph (2)(k), if:

                     (a)  the abuse of power is a fact in issue; and

                     (b)  there are reasonable grounds for finding that a communication was made or a document was prepared in furtherance of the abuse of power;

the court may find that the communication was so made or the document was so prepared.

             (5)  In this section:

                     (a)  a reference to a dispute is a reference to a dispute of a kind in respect of which relief may be given in an Australian or overseas proceeding; and

                     (b)  a reference to an attempt to negotiate the settlement of a dispute does not include a reference to an attempt to negotiate the settlement of a criminal proceeding or an anticipated criminal proceeding; and

                     (c)  a reference to a communication made by a person in dispute includes a reference to a communication made by an employee or agent of such a person; and

                     (d)  a reference to the consent of a person in dispute includes a reference to the consent of an employee or agent of such a person, being an employee or agent who is authorised so to consent; and

                     (e)  a reference to commission of an act includes a reference to a failure to act.

             (6)  In this section:

"power " means a power conferred by or under an Australian law.



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