Solicitors at Trethowans have backed calls to speed up legislation that will stop domestic abuse victims having to face their abusers in court.
Family law experts from the firm, which has offices across the region, say the practice of alleged perpetrators being able to cross examine their victims in court needs to end – and fast.
Their concerns follow a call from Women’s Aid, Resolution and The Law Society, in which the trio called on the Government to bring forward promised legislation which would ban the distressing practice.
In February last year, the Justice Secretary promised to legislate to ban alleged abusers from being able to cross-examine their victim in the family courts through the Prison and Courts Bill. However, the bill fell through due to the General Election and although a commitment to bring forward a ban was set out in the subsequent Queen’s Speech, the prohibition – which has cross-party support – has not yet been brought forward in legislation.
Grant Cameron, partner at Trethowans, says: “The thought of being cross examined by their abuser can obviously be hugely distressing for those giving evidence in family courts. The real worry is that it could put victims off giving evidence altogether.
“Resolution, along with Women’s Aid and The Law Society, are right to call for this new legislation to be brought in urgently. It’s time witnesses in family courts were afforded the same protection as those giving evidence in criminal proceedings.”
Research from Women’s Aid and Queen Mary University of London found that nearly a quarter of domestic abuse victims surveyed reported their ex-partner was allowed to cross-examine them in child contact hearings in family courts, a practice that the organisation claims has a “traumatic impact” and diminished the victims ability to give evidence.
Article written by Grant Cameron