Protecting victims of domestic abuse from being cross-examined by perpetrators in person in family proceedings - A consultation on options for legislation

Closed 24 Sep 2019

Opened 31 Jul 2019

Results Updated 27 Feb 2020

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The Department of Justice is seeking views on options for legislation to protect victims of domestic abuse from being cross-examined in person in family proceedings by those who have committed the abuse.

The legislative options include applying a statutory prohibition on cross-examination in person in certain circumstances and giving the courts a discretionary power to prevent cross-examination in person.

We would welcome views from everyone with an interest in the family justice system. However, we would particularly welcome the views of victims of domestic abuse who have been involved in family proceedings, especially victims who have been cross-examined by their abuser in person.  The views of people who have represented themselves, who may have personally carried out cross-examination of another party or witness, are also welcomed.

While we intend to publish a summary of responses on our website on completion of the consultation process, any contact details, which will identify a respondent as a private individual, will be removed prior to publication.

Why We Are Consulting

The Department’s business objectives include protecting individuals from the harm caused by domestic abuse and the final report of the Gillen Review of Family Justice recommended the introduction of specific legislative provision to protect victims from being cross-examined in person by personal litigants in family courts, similar to the legislative provision which protects victims of sexual offences giving evidence in criminal courts from being cross-examined in person by the defendant. Recent legislative developments in other jurisdictions, particularly in England and Wales, have also placed a focus on this issue.

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