This briefing addresses the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill. JUSTICE welcomes the Bill and recognises the critical opportunity it presents to address the barriers faced by victims of domestic abuse, including those faced when attempting to access the justice system. Facilitating proper and effective participation of victims in legal proceedings is of fundamental importance in a society which upholds the rule of law. Getting it right will not only ensure fairer, more accessible and more effective legal processes for victims themselves, it will also provide the court with the evidence it needs to make better decisions.
Pursuant to these aims, we urge consideration of the following amendments to the Bill:
- alleged domestic abuse victims should automatically be eligible for special measures across all courts and tribunals, not solely in the criminal courts; and
- cross-examination in person should be automatically prohibited whenever there are allegations of domestic abuse between the person giving evidence and the person who would otherwise conduct the cross-examination (as opposed to only being automatically prohibited when there is “specified evidence”, or there is already a caution, charge, conviction or injunction in place).