HL Deb 28 June 1963 vol 251 cc514-6

4.3 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill clarifies and improves the law on various matters relating to the taking and admission of evidence and the administration of oaths where the evidence is taken or the oath is administered in one country for purposes connected with another. I venture to deal with it shortly, because the House will certainly prefer to leave to a later stage any detailed consideration which it may desire.

It is a normal and convenient international practice for a court wishing to obtain evidence abroad to appoint a person to take the evidence on its behalf in the foreign country. Clause 1 clarifies the law, and empowers any person appointed by a court or other judicial authority in a foreign country to administer oaths in the United Kingdom for the purpose of taking evidence for use in civil proceedings. So much for Clause 1. I pass to the second clause.

Our diplomatic and consular representatives abroad have long had power to administer oaths and to perform notarial acts which are then recognised by our courts here as valid for the purposes of our law. Clause 2 enables provisions to be made by Order in Council for authorising the administration of oaths and the doing of notarial acts by the representatives of any Power that is protecting our interests in any country with which we are not maintaining diplomatic relations.

Clause 3 adds counsellors to the class of British representatives abroad who are empowered by the Commissioners for Oaths Act, 1889, to administer oaths and do notarial acts in a foreign country. Our courts are empowered by the Foreign Tribunals Evidence Act, 1856, to comply with requests from foreign courts to obtain evidence in relation to matters pending in those courts. Clause 4 enables such facilities to be made available for any international court or tribunal which may be specified by Order in Council. Clause 5 is designed further to facilitate the proof in our courts of entries in public registers overseas.

My Lords, those, very briefly, are the provisions of the Bill. It had the support of Members of all Parties in the House of Commons. I now commend it to the House, and beg to move that it be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Cones ford.)


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for the clear and sufficient explanation he has given of this Bill, which the Government welcome, and I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at eight minutes past four o'clock.