When it comes to family law solicitors, domestic abuse cases are unfortunately very common in today’s society and can be very delicate and challenging legal cases to work on. The latest crime survey for Wales and England revealed that the police recorded over 1,288,000 domestic abuse-related incidents ending in March 2020 which has seen a 7% increase since the previous survey. Also, the organization Refuge, which runs the national domestic abuse helpline, reported an alarming 61% rise in calls logged over the past year of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the new domestic abuse act that came into force on the 29th of April 2021 was of great pertinence due to the rise in domestic abuse cases as a result of the impositions of Covid-19.
In this article, we will take a look at the new 2021 Domestic Abuse Act and tell you everything you need to know about the long-awaited legislation. Here at Hurlows, our specialist family law solicitors in Cardiff have over 20 years of experience in providing a professional and compassionate service to our clients. We understand that domestic abuse cases can be very traumatic for families which is why we are dedicated to ensuring that victims get the protection that they need and the protection that they deserve.
What are the key features of the new Act?
The new Domestic Abuse Act is a vital step-up in the way domestic abuse is being tackled within our UK law system. Many organizations such as Women’s Aid and Refuge have praised the progressive Act, but what are the main points to take away from the new act? The majority of the new provisions of the new Domestic Abuse Act largely apply to Wales and England, however, there are some that stand for just England. Below are the main provisions that apply to Wales as well as England:
A statutory definition of abuse
This is perhaps one of the most significant features of the new Act to be introduced. The new definition of abuse has expanded its concept so that it is not only restricted to that of physical violence or sexual abuse. The updated definition of abuse now includes psychological, emotional and economic abuse, threatening behaviour and coercive control. For the definition to be applicable, both parties must be ‘personally connected’.
Coercive control has become illegal since 2015 yet is still very prevalent within modern UK society with family law proceedings subsequently rising. As a result of the rise in coercive control cases, the Resolution Annual Report 2020 published on the 16th of June 2021, revealed that an amendment to the Act had been introduced so victims could automatically be eligible for access to special measures in family proceedings.
Cross-examination in family courts
As part of the new 2021 Domestic Abuse Act, offenders are prohibited from cross-examining their victims in person within the family courts. An automatic ban for cross-examination would be applicable in the event:
- One of the parties has been convicted of, received a caution for, or charged with offences committed against the other person.
- Other evidence of domestic abuse that has been inflicted by one party against the other.
- An on notice protective injunction is in place between the two parties.
- One party is likely to negatively affect the quality of evidence given by the witness or cause significant distress to the witness.
DAPN and DAPO
Included within the new Act are two new civil protection injunctions which are referred to as:
- A domestic abuse protection notice (DAPN) – ensures immediate protection after an incident has occurred. The DAPN feature of the new Act could provide that the accused party may not contact the person who is protected since the notice has been granted as well as outlining a specified distance of the victim’s residence of which the accused is not allowed to come within.
- A domestic abuse protection order (DAPO) – much more flexible and can offer longer-term protection for victims. Under the new Act, this new DAPO feature could prevent one party from being abusive to a person age 16 or over if they are personally connected. The measure also prohibits the party from carrying out things that have been outlined within the order, or alternatively, ensures that the party upholds what is asked of them stated in the order. Also, a DAPO can prohibit any form of contact between two parties.
How can our Hurlows family law solicitors in Cardiff help you?
Our team of specialist family law solicitors in Cardiff come with a wealth of knowledge and over 20 years of experience in domestic abuse cases, which has given us the status as one of the best family law solicitors in Cardiff. If you or a family member has been subjected to domestic abuse from a partner or another member of your family, our expert family law solicitors can advise you on the legal options that are available to you. Here at Hurlows we will do everything in our power to keep you and your family safe with the backing of the law and will be able to provide swift injunction meetings depending on your unique situation and the case.
In these difficult domestic abuse cases, we understand how distressing this can be for you and your family and you may be wondering if we offer legal aid. Some victims of domestic abuse will qualify for legal aid and will have their fees paid for by the Legal Aid Agency. It is down to us to assess whether you qualify for legal aid by taking a look at your financial circumstances. If you do not qualify for legal aid in Cardiff we have a range of options to help you out, check our legal aid page for more information.
No victims should be trapped in an abusive environment due to financial constraints. As experienced and compassionate family law solicitors in Cardiff, we will advise you on the best course of legal action to take for your personal situation.
Call us today to receive a phone consultation to discuss your case and funding. Alternatively, you can sign our case review form online. Contact us now.
Hurlows Family Law Practice is a valued and respected Firm of Solicitors which has been serving the Cardiff and South Wales area since 2001.