Justice Bill offers refuge to victims of domestic abuse

The Justice Secretary Liz Truss has announced that domestic abusers will no longer be allowed to cross-examine former partners in the Family Court.

The revised Prisons and Courts Bill follows research which found that women were being routinely questioned by former abusive partners.

The survey, conducted by charity Women’s Aid, found that a quarter of victims of domestic violence had been cross-examined by abusive partners in Family Courts.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, had said in a statement that his department was lagging “woefully behind the criminal justice system” and reform should be “a matter of priority” for ministers.

Other changes in the Bill include the powers to extend the use of virtual hearings, where people will give evidence without meeting their alleged attacker in person.

Sir Oliver Heald, Justice Minister, said: “Victims and the most vulnerable are at the centre of our changes, which will help deliver swifter and more certain justice for all.”

Likewise, Nigel Shepherd, Resolution’s national chair, said “We welcome the MoJ’s proposals to prevent alleged abusers from being able to cross-examine the person they’re alleged to have abused.

“It is a reform that is long overdue in family cases where the fear of such cross-examination can result in victims of abuse not seeking the protection they need and, if they do go ahead, adds to the trauma they have suffered.

“As ever with legislation, the devil will be in the detail and there is much hard work to be done to ensure these measures can be successfully delivered. Resolution looks forward to playing its part in this.”