Technology provides hope for domestic abuse hearings

21/06/2019

The recent trialling of video links in the family courts has been so successful that it is set to be rolled out further across the country. This is great news for domestic abuse victims who desperately need to cut ties with a former partner but are currently forced to spend time with them to do so.

Giving evidence in any court is undoubtedly a very stressful experience for anyone. For those who have suffered domestic abuse, the thought of having to face your abuser in court can be terrifying and it is often said by victims that it is a continuation of the abuse itself.

The criminal courts have some safeguards in place to make the process as risk and worry free as is possible but the family courts have sadly lagged behind.It is the family courts where the arrangements for the children or the family finances are resolved, so to come face to face with your abuser and potentially be cross examined by them can be a very frightening experience.

Video Link Pilot in Family Courts

Since January, the Ministry of Justice has been trialling a new scheme whereby vulnerable people can appear before the court using a video link from their solicitor’s office, thereby avoiding the distress of attending court.

Six cases have now been trialled in this way and the feedback has been positive so much so that the testing is being rolled out to more family and civil courts over the next few months and the results are to be independently evaluated.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said “we are hearing that, even in the early stages, testing fully video hearings are having a positive effect and ensuring the justice system is supporting people at one of the most difficult times in their lives.”  1

Our Family Team’s View

Sue Nash, Senior Associate at Pinney Talfourd and family law specialist says “It is progress that the family courts are now realising just how difficult it can be for victims of abuse to give evidence in front of their abuser.This is a small step but hopefully one that will have positive outcomes and will soon be rolled out countrywide”.

Our team of family solicitors are highly experienced in obtaining domestic violence injunctions and ‘protection from harassment’ orders through the courts. These orders can already be applied for on an emergency basis without your partner or ex-partner being present at the initial court hearing. He or she would therefore not be aware of your application until after a court order has been granted to protect you. This new development in video link facilities will ensure your wellbeing at a further stage in the process and our Family Team will be happy to arrange this where possible.

More information

Our domestic abuse solicitors in Essex and London can provide you with confidential legal advice to help you decide the best way forward in order to end the abuse and violence.

Our experienced team of family law solicitors will be happy to see you for a free and fully confidential initial consultation to provide you with advice and support regarding all aspects of domestic abuse and filing an injunction against your partner.This article was written by Sue Nash, Senior Associate​ in the Family Law Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2019.

21/06/2019

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