Legislation changes on domestic violence

In recent years there has been a significant rise in reported domestic violence cases, with figures soaring following the Covid-19 pandemic as it had left many couples isolated at home, some in dangerous and difficult circumstances. This, alongside with the stigma attached with being a victim of this form of physical or emotional abuse has demonstrated how people may be less inclined to report such crimes. To tackle this and the challenges that come with reporting domestic abuse, new legislation has been introduced that will now allow the often triggering and emotionally distressing experience of the cross-examination, of the victim, in the family court to be conducted more professionally. 

What is the new change? 

Cross-examination will be conducted in a more neutral approach, eliminating the previous, often aggressive and accusatory line of questioning. Previously, individuals claiming to be victims of domestic abuse would be subject to cross-examinations which were usually led by the abusers or their legal representatives in court as they would attempt to disprove these claims. It was alleged that this was exploited as a method to further continue the abuse by forcing victims to relive traumas and make them feel isolated, as though they were fabricating the events. 

As part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, this new change has been a welcomed improvement regarding the treatment of victims and their traumas. These cross-examinations will now be conducted by, either specially trained legal professionals or judges throughout the proceedings.  

How will this affect future cases? 

With the Act introducing new statutory definition for domestic abuse, the courts will now be able to perform their questioning in line with the definition to determine the extent of the domestic abuse the victim was subject to. This prevents the abusers from using the system as a method of extending their abuse, thereby protecting the victims from experiencing further avoidable distress.   

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced family law team at Bond Adams LLP Solicitors. You can contact us on 0116 285 8080 or at lawyers@bondadams.com.