New South Wales Consolidated Acts

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EVIDENCE ACT 1995 - SECT 13

Competence: lack of capacity

13 Competence: lack of capacity

(1) A person is not competent to give evidence about a fact if, for any reason (including a mental, intellectual or physical disability):
(a) the person does not have the capacity to understand a question about the fact, or
(b) the person does not have the capacity to give an answer that can be understood to a question about the fact,
and that incapacity cannot be overcome.
Note : See sections 30 and 31 for examples of assistance that may be provided to enable witnesses to overcome disabilities.
(2) A person who, because of subsection (1), is not competent to give evidence about a fact may be competent to give evidence about other facts.
(3) A person who is competent to give evidence about a fact is not competent to give sworn evidence about the fact if the person does not have the capacity to understand that, in giving evidence, he or she is under an obligation to give truthful evidence.
(4) A person who is not competent to give sworn evidence about a fact may, subject to subsection (5), be competent to give unsworn evidence about the fact.
(5) A person who, because of subsection (3), is not competent to give sworn evidence is competent to give unsworn evidence if the court has told the person:
(a) that it is important to tell the truth, and
(b) that he or she may be asked questions that he or she does not know, or cannot remember, the answer to, and that he or she should tell the court if this occurs, and
(c) that he or she may be asked questions that suggest certain statements are true or untrue and that he or she should agree with the statements that he or she believes are true and should feel no pressure to agree with statements that he or she believes are untrue.
(6) It is presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that a person is not incompetent because of this section.
(7) Evidence that has been given by a witness does not become inadmissible merely because, before the witness finishes giving evidence, he or she dies or ceases to be competent to give evidence.
(8) For the purpose of determining a question arising under this section, the court may inform itself as it thinks fit, including by obtaining information from a person who has relevant specialised knowledge based on the person's training, study or experience.



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