F v B was a recent case concerning pre-trial admissibility rulings.  

Background

Mrs F had three children who were beneficiaries under her will. One of her children, Mrs B, was also an executor of the will and it was her who received the bulk of the $1.2 million estate. The other two children began a family protection proceeding, swearing an affidavit at the outset. Mrs B sought to strike out certain paragraphs in this affidavit before the start of the trial. This case discussed whether the court should develop a practice of giving pre-trial verdicts on evidence.  

Factors considered by the Court

The reasons presented for not allowing these kinds of applications were:

  • In most cases there will be no prejudice in leaving admissibility decisions to the trial
  • Allowing pre-trial admissibility rulings might encourage parties to take a more casual approach to preparing their evidence
  • Such a practice would make the overall process more inefficien
  • There is a heavier cost on interlocutory applications than there would be on dealing with such matters in the course of the trial

However, these are general considerations only. There may also be good reasons why the court occasionally should consider pre-trial applications.  

Takeaway

The general practice in civil proceedings is to leave objections to evidence to be determined during the actual hearing. This principle was upheld by the High Court.  


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