Victoria Aked continues to look at the new Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Parties that are not legally represented are known as “Litigants in Person” and will have to deal with Court applications, disclosure requirements and liaising with the other party’s legal representative themselves. In addition to this, they will speak directly to the Judge and the other party’s Barrister at Court.
It is a common worry of the victim of domestic abuse that, if unrepresented, the perpetrator of domestic abuse will be able to cross examine their evidence directly in Court. For the victim this will mean not only physically confronting the perpetrator, but having their evidence undermined and the veracity of their abusive experience questioned by the very person that abused them.
The Domestic Abuse 2021 prohibits any party that has been convicted, received a caution for or is charged with certain offences from cross-examining another party to the proceedings that is the victim, or an alleged victim of that offence. Where a protective injunction is in place (a Non Molestation Order, for example), or where there has been other evidence of domestic abuse, there will also be an automatic prohibition, preventing the perpetrator from cross-examining the victim.
Where previously a Judge has “tested” the evidence of the victim using a series of questions provided to the Judge by the perpetrator ahead of the hearing, the Act now makes provision for the Court to appoint a qualified legal representative to conduct cross-examination on behalf of the abuser. It is hoped this provision will ensure that both parties have a fair trial and are not prejudiced in stating their case before the Court.
This article is for information purposes only and does not amount to professional advice. If the issues raised effect you then professional legal advice should be sought.