27.1 The previous chapter discussed some of the problems that may lead to attrition of sexual assault cases at the reporting, investigation, prosecution and other stages before cases reach trial.

27.2 This chapter, and Chapter 28, examine selected issues that arise in the trial of sexual assault cases. This chapter deals with aspects of the application of the laws of evidence. Chapter 28 deals with the giving of jury warnings, the cross-examination of complainants and other witnesses in sexual assault proceedings and certain other aspects of giving evidence.

27.3 These issues have been selected because the application of law in these areas has a direct and significant impact on the experiences in the criminal justice system of women and children who have suffered sexual assault, including in a family violence context—the focus of the Commissions’ Terms of Reference. The way in which these aspects of the law are applied may lead to cases being withdrawn at a late stage or tried without the full evidentiary picture being before the jury. The procedures required at trial may make complainants reluctant to continue to give evidence in sexual assault proceedings.