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Domestic abusers barred from cross-examining victims in family and civil courts

From 21 July 2022 victims of domestic abuse can be spared from being cross-examined by their alleged attackers in family and civil courts under measures coming into force on that day.

The ban will be applied only in cases where there is specified evidence of domestic abuse between those involved, or there is a conviction or protective injunction in place between the parties.

In such cases cross-examination will be done by a court-appointed legal professional to ensure that justice continues to be done fairly for both sides. Under sections 65 and 66 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, the court will appoint a qualified legal representative (QLR) to cross-examine relevant witnesses if parties:

• do not have their own legal representative

• are prohibited by the court from cross-examining, due to allegations of domestic abuse.

The Ministry of Justice has opened registration for its Domestic Abuse Advocacy Scheme. Solicitors and barristers with relevant experience can register for the scheme as qualified legal representatives. To find out more about the scheme and to make an application, click here.

For the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (Commencement No. 5 and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2022, which brought into force sections 65 and 55 of the 2021 Act, click here.