It was announced that the Government will re-introduce the Domestic Abuse Bill in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October 2019.
Responding to the news, Hetty Gleave, partner in the Family Department, commented:
“News today that domestic violence murders are at the highest level for five years indicates the scale of violence in relationships. Those who work with families are well aware that violence is more than just physical, but includes coercion, as well as oppressive and controlling behaviour. It is therefore welcome news that a new domestic abuse bill will be pursued during the next parliament and will provide a statutory definition of domestic violence, hopefully to include non physical abuse. Cross examination by convicted perpetrators of violence of their victims can often perpetuate the abuse and undermine their evidence. The common use of screens in court to shield victims from their abusers when giving evidence is often inadequate when words alone can inflict as much pain as physical violence. It is therefore encouraging that the legislation aims to prevent this.
“It is disappointing however, that, at the same time, there is no such assurance that the no fault divorce will be pursued. In the absence of adultery, a person will have to rely on allegations of their spouses behaviour if they wish to divorce without a two or five year wait. This inevitably increases acrimony in relationships already under strain which can often flare up into domestic violence if the parties feel trapped in a toxic relationship. Introducing both bills together would show joined up thinking and a progressive attitude aimed at tackling relationship abuse generally, for both married and unmarried couples.”
Read the full article in Family Law Week here.