HEARSAY testimony will be admitted in civil proceedings if wide-ranging changes recommended by the Law Reform Commission are approved. The reforms would make hearings more just, quicker,and more efficient, the commission said yesterday. However, they will not be extended to the criminal courts where a higher standard of proof is required. The proposals are modelled on legal procedures in the UK and will permit a judge to determine what weight to place on evidence derived from a secondary source. If a jury is sitting, the judge will direct it on the evidence's reliability. Senior Crown Counsel Thomas Leung Moon-keung said: 'More justice will be done, because if we have hearsay evidence, we will have everything from which to make a decision. You can put into evidence all of the relevant information: the court then gets a full picture and knows exactly what is going on.' The changes flow from a consultation paper in August 1992, and follow strong legal criticism of the courts' inflexibility. A final report will be released in three months and legislation is expected to follow. Commission secretary Stuart Stoker said exceptions to the present hearsay rule had become complex and unclear. 'Hearsay evidence essentially means second-hand evidence,' he said. 'It is hearsay when a witness testifies to a particular fact on the basis of what he was told by another. Because this . . . evidence was thought to be less reliable than first-hand evidence, the law generally excluded it.' It is proposed there should be statutory guidelines to help a court assess the worth of hearsay evidence.