Some welcome news for victims of domestic abuse

For many victims of domestic abuse the thought of having to give evidence in court can be very harrowing indeed. This coupled with the fact that the very person who subjected them to the abuse can cross examine them on their evidence can be enough to deter victims from coming forward.

From 21 July 2022 some victims of domestic abuse can now be spared the ordeal of being cross-examined by their alleged attackers in family and civil courts. The move follows concerns that perpetrators were using the court process as a means of extending their abuse to alleged victims.

This will however only apply to specific cases where one party has been convicted of, given a caution or is charged with a specified offence. It will also apply to cases where there is specified evidence that the witness has been subject to domestic abuse.

In the same respect there is also a prohibition which prevents a victim or alleged victim from cross-examining a witness who has been convicted of, given a caution or charged with that offence.

Where there is specific evidence of domestic abuse, cross-examination will be conducted by a court-appointed legal professional. The court will appoint a legal representative to cross-examine relevant witnesses if parties:

  • do not have their own legal representative
  • are prohibited by the court from cross-examining, due to allegations of domestic abuse.

This will mean that for a significant number of people they will continue to have to face their alleged attacker in court, albeit the Court will have discretion to prohibit this if certain conditions are met. This represents a significant move forward in the family courts but many will argue the legislation could go further to protect alleged victims.

If you are in an abusive relationship or require assistance in obtaining a protective inunction please get in touch today on 01727 845245 or email Anna Patsalides or Ben Twitchen.