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Resolution welcomes proposals to protect vulnerable witnesses in family courts

President’s report published

Resolution has welcomed the publication of the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses report, issued by the President of the Family Division. The report recommends changes that need to be made to the family courts to create a more supportive environment for children and the vulnerable.

Responding to the report, Resolution's Elspeth Thomson, who leads the organisation's work on legal aid, said:

"The family courts have for some time lagged well behind the criminal courts in their provision of safe and inclusive procedures for vulnerable witnesses. This shortfall was exacerbated by the loss of most family legal aid, which has led to, in some cases, victims of domestic violence being cross-examined by their abuser. We welcome the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses group's recognition that the family courts need reform to make them a less hostile environment."

She continued:

"We're particularly pleased to see that attention is being given to support for witnesses in domestic abuse cases and the recommendation that the definition of 'vulnerable' is being extended to intimidated witnesses. This is an important first step towards helping some of our society's most vulnerable people access justice in the family courts in a safe and supported manner."

Resolution responded to the consultation on the interim report of the Children and Vulnerable Witnesses Working Group and looks forward to working with the Family Division on the steps that need to be taken to put these recommendations into practice.

The report is here.

An article by Louise McCallum of Zenith Chambers explaining the recommendations and their implications will be published by Family Law Week within the next few days.

22/3/15