Industry reaction to landmark Domestic Abuse Bill
A week today, the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill passed both Houses of Parliament and was signed into law.
The Bill, which is one of 16 Bills which have received Royal Assent head of the prorogation of Parliament, will provide protection to millions of people who experience domestic abuse and strengthens measures to tackle perpetrators.
Industry professionals and organisations spoke out about the Bill about what it will mean for the profession and the victims.
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said:
“This landmark piece of legislation steps up the response to domestic abuse at every level – giving victims more support than ever before while ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law.
“Thanks to the many survivors, charities, parliamentarians and colleagues from across government who have worked tirelessly to make this possible, more vulnerable people and families will be protected from the scourge of domestic abuse.”
Mena Ruparel, Chair of the Law Society’s Family Law Committee said:
“I am delighted that the new Domestic Abuse Act offers better protection to victims of domestic abuse by including a wider definition of what abuse constitutes and the different forms it can take. The Covid-19 lockdown has left domestic abuse victims particularly vulnerable, and it is vital the system is equipped to deal with these cases.
“Experience of emotional and economic abuse is often difficult for victims to recognise and articulate. Thanks to this Act they can no longer be cross-examined by their abusers.
“This should help victims to be able to go through with court proceedings without feeling abused by a process which was exposing them to their perpetrator’s cross examination. I am hopeful that victims of domestic abuse of all forms will be better protected under the new Act.
“We have called for the criteria for legal aid to be urgently revised to ensure that victims of domestic abuse can access legal advice to obtain protection for themselves and their children, without having their means assessed. Legal aid should be re-introduced for early advice in all family cases, ensuring that victims of abuse are identified at an early stage and assisted in getting the access to justice they so desperately need.”
Shanika Varga, Senior Solicitor at Stowe Family Law said:
“I have worked with victims of domestic abuse throughout my entire career, the past 12 months in particular have been a catalyst for abusive environments, we have seen an increase in cases which involve domestic abuse in the courts and charities have reported increased numbers of people seeking help, I suspect we do not know the half of it yet. The last year should have been a wakeup call that we need better funding, support and protection available to victims of domestic abuse.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill is a step in the right direction and it has introduced significant positive change, for example the prohibition of abusers cross examining their victims and the inclusion of economic abuse. However in my view it doesn’t go far enough, the protection afforded by the bill depends on a victims immigration status, people who fall into the category of having “no recourse to public funds” are entirely failed. Protection from domestic abuse should be available to everyone and not dependent on immigration status.
“I hope that the bill is the starting point for meaningful progress but it should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind that we have a long way to go yet.”
Speaking on the ‘long overdue’ legislation, Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“Domestic abuse and violence against women and girls are utterly shameful. As Home Secretary, I am determined to work tirelessly to keep vulnerable people safe and bring crime down.
“The Domestic Abuse Act is long overdue. This landmark act will transform the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.”