A 28-member group of women’s charities, solicitors and domestic abuse survivors has asked the government to end the “appalling practice” of domestic abuse survivors being questioned by their perpetrators in family courts.
Though outlawed in the 2021 Domestic Abuse Act, cross examination continues according to the group.
“Firstly, the ban only applies to new cases, meaning that victims already engaged in family court proceedings cannot access this protection,” the signatories write in a letter to justice secretary Dominic Raab.
“Secondly, the ministry of justice has set the fees that legal representatives can charge for this work at a rate which is not competitive.”
The letter goes on to suggest not enough qualified legal representative are signing up and the limited funding available for training “for this challenging work” is causing concern among professional bodies about the scheme’s safety and effectiveness.
The writers add: “Finally, the ministry of justice is not monitoring or evaluating the implementation of the ban at all. How can victims trust that it is working to keep them safe?”
The Law Gazette quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying: “Victims of domestic abuse should not have to face the ordeal of cross-examination by their abusers in court which is why we changed the law and put a stop to this awful practice.”
The department, which said hundreds of lawyers have signed up to become qualified representatives in such cases, pledged it will respond to the letter in due course.