New technology drives reform in SA court rooms

Professor John Williams

Professor John Williams
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SALRI Issues Paper  [PDF]  (1.11M)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) is calling for submissions on a revamp of evidence laws in the wake of an increasing reliance on new technology.

In a paper issued today by SALRI, the Institute asks whether certain provisions in the South Australian Evidence Act 1929 which are outdated and have no further use in court should be abolished.

"These include provisions that set standards for proof of communications by telegram and telegraph," said SALRI Director Professor John Williams, the Dean of Law from the University of Adelaide.

"At the same time, we need to look at facilitating the proof of electronic and digital communications and ways in which records of these communications can be used in court proceedings," Professor Williams said.

The Issues Paper (entitled Computer Says No) is the first to be released by the newly formed Institute, established at the University of Adelaide under an agreement with the SA Law Society and the Attorney-General, the Hon. John Rau.

"We are asking interested parties to consider how to deal with proof of computer evidence and communications in a technology-driven world and to consider the merits of modelling South Australia's provisions on the Uniform Evidence laws that exist in most other Australian jurisdictions," Professor Williams said.

"Although this paper discusses technical legal rules, the Institute is keen to hear from anyone who has a view about it. We are particularly interested in the views of lawyers and judges who apply these rules every day in court, of litigants who have experienced the way the rules are applied, and of scientific experts in digital information and communication technology."

SA Attorney-General John Rau said he was delighted that the Law Reform Institute was providing independent and relevant policy advice for the State Government to consider.

"I encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to provide their views to the Institute," Mr Rau said.

The paper and information about how to make a submission can be found on the SALRI web page:

The final date for comment on the Issues Paper is Friday 20 July 2012, after which the Institute will prepare recommendations to the Attorney-General.


Contact Details

Professor John Williams
Dean of Law School
Director, South Australian Law Reform Institute
The University of Adelaide

Ms Helen Wighton
Senior Lecturer
Law School
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0921

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762