What’s an Inadmissibility Hearing?
Before court cases go to trial, the plaintiffs and witnesses for the Prosecution (in this case the ex-members of Gloriavale) must complete Affidavits. These are also called Briefs of Evidence. These get read aloud in court and then the witness is cross-examined by all the lawyers on the contents. These affidavits must be given to the other side (the Defendants) ahead of the court trial. They need time to read them and respond to them and find witnesses to testify on their behalf.
Gloriavale was given 20 briefs of evidence, but they didn’t like the contents and believed they had ground to apply for some of the evidence to be removed and marked as inadmissible.
They asked the court to disallow 297 paragraphs across 16 of the briefs and to remove two full briefs stating that much of the evidence was scandalous, hearsay or based on opinion.
Judge BA Cawkill was put in charge of determining whether the evidence would be admissible. There is a table at the end of the judgement which lays out all the objections. You can read the judgement here.
Mr Skelton QC, counsel for the second defendants, said
“…the briefs of evidence which had been filed for the plaintiffs presented a dark picture of life in Gloriavale in general and a wide-range of grievances against the second defendants. He submitted that large portions of the evidence had no relevance, or alternatively, very little relevance, to whether or not the plaintiffs were employees of the second defendants. Much of it was scandalous in nature and gave every appearance of having been included to embarrass or prejudice the second defendants.”
It appears that a large majority of the objections were overruled, and the evidence will remain.
The judge recognised that information that related to the power and control structure within the community, including relevant sexual offending, may be useful for the judge to understand the context of how the community allegedly operates, and it will be for the court to decide which issues relate to potential employment.
Gloriavale’s objections to vague alleged offending were upheld, along with their desire for a large portion of one person’s affidavit to be removed, because they were not considered qualified enough to be an expert witness in employment practices. This person was given an opportunity to provide an amended brief.
The judge wrote,
“Next, I refer to two related points referred to by Mr Skelton in his submissions. He said the case had generated significant media interest, and that it was highly likely scandalous material, if allowed to be read out in Court, would be repeated in the news media which could impact on Gloriavale’s commercial relationships. The related point concerns specific passages which he says can only have been included for prejudicial effect.”
The judge responded with,
“The open administration of justice is fundamental to a free and democratic society. It is not the role of the Court to evaluate how evidence which is otherwise properly admissible may be perceived by the media, or the public.”
Issues of name suppression for upcoming trials was discussed, in particular how it works in parallel with the cross-over of witnesses in the Employment Court. The judge will ensure that there is adequate direction given to the court regarding current suppressions.
The case starts on 29 August 2022