Bunning v Cross [1978] HCA 22 | 14 June 1978

ON THIS DAY in 1978, the High Court of Australia delivered Bunning v Cross [1978] HCA 22; (1978) 141 CLR 54 (14 June 1978).

“Evidence – Illegally obtained – Statutory offence – Driving under influence of alcohol – Compulsory breath and blood tests – Grounds for requiring submission to test – Grounds not satisfied – Whether sample obtained illegally – Whether evidence admissible – Error in obtaining evidence not wilful – Discretion to exclude – Public policy – Road Traffic Act, 1974 (W.A.), ss. 63-68, 70, 71.”


A court has the discretion to admit or exclude evidence that is improperly or illegally obtained. In exercising its discretion, the court is to weigh up the competing public requirements of (a) bringing to criminal wrongdoing to conviction and (b) protecting all individuals from unfair and unlawful treatment.  The onus is on the accused to prove misconduct and justify the exclusion.


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