4.1 Section 12 of the uniform Evidence Acts provides that every person is presumed competent to give evidence unless a court finds they are incompetent to do so. It also provides that, subject to some limited exceptions, all witnesses who are competent are compellable to give evidence. The section takes the place of any rule of common law or equity in relation to the competence and compellability of witnesses.[1]

4.2 In this chapter, the Commissions examine the provisions governing competence and consider whether the uniform Evidence Acts require amendment. The examination of the provisions governing compellability is confined to the scope and appropriateness of the definition ‘de facto spouse’, which affects the rights of a person in a de facto relationship with an accused in a criminal matter to object to being required to give evidence.

[1] See S Odgers, Uniform Evidence Law (6th ed, 2004), [1.2.640].