Cross-examination by alleged abusers ‘a matter of urgency’

domestic abuse

The cross-examination of alleged domestic abuse victims by the person accused of the abuse should be banned, the Ministry of Justice believes.

Although no longer permitted in criminal cases, people accused of domestic violence are still sometimes able to-examine their accusers in family court proceedings if they have no lawyer. Individuals with criminal convictions and others who have been made the subject of restraining orders have been able to do so on occasion.

Just before New Year, Family Division President Sir James Munby said there was a “pressing need” to close the loophole but that doing so would require legislation.

Now Justice Secretary Liz Truss, also Lord Chancellor, has taken a similar view, The Guardian reports. She and Sir James hold regular meetings, the paper reports. A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said:

“This is a matter we are extremely concerned about and looking at as a matter of urgency.”

The Secretary has discussed the issue with colleagues, sources report, and is now considering the quickest way to ban the practice. A discussion paper will be drafted outlining options.

Intriguingly, The Guardian claims, one option under consideration, as an alternative to new legislation, is the “provision of more legal aid” to enable people accused of domestic abuse to obtain their own legal representation. They would then have no need to personally cross-examine their accusers in court.

Photo by Horla Varlan via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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3 comments

Andrew - January 5, 2017 at 2:24pm

There has been an obvious breach of Article 6 here and giving legal aid to the other party is the only answer.

Stitchedup - January 5, 2017 at 4:01pm

Agreed, I wonder if Liz Truss will take the opportunity to enforce Article 6 or simply pander to feminist politics.

spinner - January 5, 2017 at 6:28pm

It’s the only answer as I can’t see how without both sides being equally able to cross examine it could be called fair. If one side gets legal aid then the other automatically does.

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