Government to bring forward an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill
The Government is bringing forward an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill inserting a new clause that would ensure that victims of domestic abuse are automatically eligible for access to special measures in family proceedings without the need for any determination of the victim’s vulnerability
This includes a new clause given the Court the power to give a direction prohibiting cross-examination in person.
The direction will be given where such cross examination is likely to diminish the quality of the victim’s evidence or would cause significant distress to the witness
The court would have the power to appoint a legal representative to conduct cross examination on behalf of the perpetrator with payment made from central funds.
Further guidance is awaited.
This news is welcome. For too long, victims have been subject to cross examination by perpetrators. Currently, the Judge has limited powers only to prevent direct questioning, but this has the effect of making the process longer and more difficult.
The family courts make decision with lifelong consequences for children and it is essential that evidence is given that ensure a safe, lasting and satisfactory outcome for the child to ensure justice is done for all involved.
Graeme Fraser, Partner & Head of Family comments as follows:
This is welcome news, particularly at a time when domestic abuse has manifestly increased as a result of the Covid19 disruption and lockdown. We hope that these measures can be brought into force imminently so that justice can be done to all those affected.
For information and advice in relation to domestic abuse issues, please contact the OGR Stock Denton Family Team.