Having to attend a court hearing is unsettling enough for most people, let alone those who have been victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the other party. Having to face their abuser in court can affect victims mental and emotional wellbeing hugely, in addition to the initial stress and worries of being subject to court proceedings. As a result, the courts have enacted several provisions in order to protect the most vulnerable.
Can I apply for special measures?
In order to be eligible for this, you must be able to show that your ability to participate in the hearing and give evidence will be diminished due to the fear and anxiety created by having to face your abuser. S63 Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provides that where a party is or is at risk of becoming a victim of domestic abuse, the court will automatically assume that this ability is diminished.
If granted, special measures can include:
- Use of separate court entrances for parties
- Use of separate waiting rooms for parties
- Use of screens to prevent the parties being able to see each other
- Permitting evidence via video link
Can my abuser cross-examine me?
Because of the many cuts to civil legal aid over the past few years, it is becoming more common for parties to represent themselves in court as a way to minimise costs. Because of this, the risk of a victim being cross-examined by their abuser has become very high. In order to prevent this from happening, you can apply to the courts via an EX740 form detailing your reasons why this wouldn’t be appropriate. Understandably, victims feel extremely intimidated by their abusers and therefore would not be able to answer the questions to the best of their ability or give compelling evidence. If they were forced to do so, victims would be put at a disadvantage in their case, and this would be unfair.
“Some of the most vulnerable in our society come before the family courts, and we are absolutely determined that we offer them every protection. We will ensure that victims of domestic abuse are not intimidated by their abuser in court.”
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar QC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of justice.
FREE 30-minute consultation with an expert family solicitor at Sinclair Law
If you require any legal advice or assistance about divorce, separation or any other family law matter, please do not hesitate to take advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with one of our specialist family lawyers. Simply complete the form on this page or call 01625 526 222 to arrange a consultation.