Campaigner: victims of domestic violence should be allowed to conceal their address in court

Domestic violenceVictims of domestic violence should be allowed to keep their address secret when they appear in court, a campaigner has claimed.

Domestic violence survivor Eve Thomas was threatened with jail, the Telegraph reports, after refusing to reveal the address of her safe house during an appearance in the small claims court.

Thomas spent 21 years with her allegedly abusive ex-husband before eventually fleeing with her youngest daughter.

Later, however, she was summoned to the small claims court by a former friend over an unpaid debt. Despite the fact that the alleged creditor was a friend of her former husband and present in court, an official insisted that she announce the address of her safe house. Thomas offered to do so in a sealed envelope, but when it emerged that the person claiming the debt would be able to apply to see the address even if it was concealed, she refused to disclose it.

Thomas said: “It was so distressing but I was willing to go to jail to keep it a secret. There could be victims all over the country who have to publicly reveal in court where they are living, often in front of their abusers. This flaw in the law is putting victims and their children in danger.”

Campaigners have called for a so-called Eve’s Law, which would allow victims to conceal their address in court.

Domestic violence charity Refuge said hundreds of victims were regularly put a risk by being forced to reveal their addresses during court proceedings.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told the paper:

“The courts regularly handle extremely sensitive cases and have a range of measures to support vulnerable court users, putting their safety and security first.”

Insistence on an address in financial cases is subject to the discretion of judges, he added.

6 comments

Stitchedup - October 7, 2013 at 3:17pm

In circumstances of proven serious physical violence it makes complete sense to allow the victim to conceal their address. I think the difficulty comes when there is no proof of any physical violence, just dubious allegations of loosely termed “emotional” abuse e.g. name calling, and a judge has erred on the side of caution and imposed an equally dubious order on the balance of probability.

Unfortunately, divorce/separation is not enough for some people. They appear to want to completely delete a long term partner from their life, as if he/she never existed, using any means to do this. I think judges should also recognise this and not allow themselves and the courts to be used as pawns.

Andrew - October 7, 2013 at 4:06pm

If the claimant succeeds and gets a judgment he is entitled to his money – and that may need the bailiffs going on – and they need to know where to go. Or if Ms Thomas is now a home-owner and the creditor wants to proceed by charging order he will again need the address. A1P1, anybody?

Andrew - October 7, 2013 at 9:11pm

In fact now I come to think of it – how did the claimant sue without knowing her address? If he knows it he can tell the ex without having to sue her – which suggest that suing her was not a means of helping his friend get her address,

In divorce cases an order allowing the petitioner to conceal her (usually) address is made without notice. It carries an ugly implication yet when I was in practice she did not even have to serve the evidence (covering up the address) on which it was made. I once applied for a copy of it for a husband, and after much argument got it; and she had accused him of a violent assault some weeks earlier on a date when he could prove that he was in New York (passport stamps and hotel bills and the like). The order was eventually set aside after she put a Class F caution on the register giving the very address she had tried to conceal!

An unusual case, no doubt, but it reminds us how important it is that every order made without notice should be open to an application to discharge on on application on notice.

Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham - October 7, 2013 at 10:01pm

“In circumstances of proven serious physical violence it makes complete sense to allow the victim to conceal their address.” I 100% agree with this statement by Stitchedup.

Paul - October 7, 2013 at 11:37pm

Someone’s failed the IQ test here.

Stitchedup - October 8, 2013 at 4:16pm

Re Andrew ” she had accused him of a violent assault some weeks earlier on a date when he could prove that he was in New York (passport stamps and hotel bills and the like”.

How do they get away with it???? surely this is perjury!. My ex did something similar, amongst other lies and gross exaggerations she claimed I had sent a text at a time when I could prove she had barred my number!! And why did she bare my number?? because I sent her own disgusting texts back to her, i.e. she couldn’t handle having her own texts back which I essentially bounced back to her due to their distasteful content.

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