Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 90 - Professional privilege for confidential communications

Project No. 90

Commenced: 1990
Completed: 1993

The issue was referred to the Commission following a situation where a newspaper journalist refused to disclose the source of certain relevant information in Western Australian judicial proceedings. The same issue had been raised in incidents involving journalists in other jurisdictions.

Terms of Reference

In 1990 the Commission was asked to consider what changes, if any, should be made to the law of professional privilege as regards the obligation to disclose confidential communications or records in judicial proceedings. In particular, the Commission was asked to recommend ‘whether clause 109 of the draft Evidence Bill in Appendix A to the 38th Report of the Australian Law Reform Commission, or any variation thereto, should be adopted in Western Australia’.


In 1996, the Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Intergovernmental Agreements tabled its Evidence Law report before the Legislative Assembly. The report addressed the question whether Western Australia should support national uniform evidence legislation by the adoption of legislation similar to that already existing in the federal sphere. The Standing Committee agreed, in principle, that Western Australia should enact new legislation convergent with the Commonwealth Evidence Act 1995 but incorporate current Western Australian provisions worthy of retention. In respect of the creation of privileges for protection of confidential communications the Standing Committee indicated that it rejected the grant of any form of blanket privilege attaching to specific relationships. Instead, the Committee expressed its preference for enactment of a general judicial discretion in matters of confidential communications.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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