HL Deb 16 October 1968 vol 296 cc1357-8

[References are to Bill 114 as first printed for the Commons]

[Nos. 1 & 2.]

Clause 4, page 3, line 39, leave out from "person" to "in" line 40 and insert" acting".

Clause 4, page 3,line 42, leave out "by virtue" and insert "for the purposes".


My Lords, the Commons have made 14 Amendments to the Civil Evidence Bill. They mostly relate to different points, and must accordingly be explained separately. But I should say at once that they are all purely technical and, so far as I know. there has been no objection to any of them. Your Lordships will remember that this is the Bill by which we sought, as indeed we must, to make the output of computers admissible evidence in our courts. Your Lordships may also remember that we had quite a little difficulty in doing this here, partly because of the nature of computers, and partly in determining the conditions under which, from the point of view of the opposing party, such evidence should be admissible.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are drafting Amendments. They extend the meaning to be attached under Clause 4(3) to "a person acting under a duty", so as to make that expression include a person acting in the course of any trade, business or profession instead of, a person performing a duty falling to be performed by him in the course of any trade and so on. It is clear from the Report of the Law Reform Committee that they intended ordinary business records to be treated as having been compiled under a duty, as in most cases they are. But the concept of "duty" is not very appropriate to the owner of a one-man business who keeps his own records. He cannot be under any duty to himself (although he will find it in practice essential) to keep normal business records, and it would be anomalous if entries in his ledgers made by him were not admissible whereas entries in similar ledgers made by another man's clerk, simply because he was an employee, were admissible. Convenience and logic demand that entries made in the course of business by the proprietor should be treated on a par with similar entries made by an employee. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amend rents Nos. 1 and 2.

Moved, That the House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross has asked me to reply for him on behalf of these Benches. He asked me to apologise for his absence and to start by saying that he is grateful for the consultations which he has had with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor upon these Amendments. In consequence of those consultations he personally is satisfied that these two Amendments, and indeed all the Commons Amendments, may be accepted. Furthermore, I gather from my other noble and legal friends on these Benches that they feel the same. On these grounds, I feel confident in saying that if the noble and learned Lord would like to move the rest of these Amendments en bloc there are unlikely to be any objections from this side.

On Question, Motion agreed to.