One of the reasons that people often decide not to report their partner for domestic violence or abuse against them or refuse to give evidence if their partner is charged with domestic abuse, is the risk that they will be subjected to cross examination directly by their partner in Court.

However the situation is about to change as a draft domestic abuse bill, which has just been published, intends to end the alleged abuser’s right to cross examine his or her victims in Court.  This is a great victory for campaigners as the current practice, allowing cross-examination to take place, is tantamount to a continuation of the abuse and control the abuser has over their victim.

In addition, the bill will recognise “economic abuse” as a type of abuse in its own right.  This means that, for example, withholding money, taking control of bank accounts, providing a food allowance, limiting use of mobile phones or preventing someone from working by, for example, hiding their car keys so that they cannot travel to work causing the loss of their job, will soon be recognised as abuse for which the abuser can be prosecuted.

This bill, were it to become law, would be a significant step forward for victims of abuse and it is hoped that it will result in more people coming forward if they are subject to such behaviour and the abusers being successfully prosecuted.

Jo Spain

SpainWilliams, Family Law Specialists