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Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and the Family Courts

View profile for Franca Webb
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Four years after the domestic abuse bill was first promised in the Queen’s Speech it finally became law 30th April 2021.

Perhaps the main change in family law is that the Act was to stop the practice of a perpetrator of domestic abuse cross examining their victim in court. Instead the cross examination was to be carried out by a “qualified legal representative”.

A number of issues have come to light however, the ban only applies to new cases which means that victims already engaged in the family court process cannot access this protection.  On average it takes in excess of 11 months for a Private Law Children case to reach conclusion. 

In addition, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has set the fees that qualified legal representatives can charge for this work at a rate which is nowhere near competitive. Concerns have been raised that there are not enough qualified legal representatives as a result.  Further the funding for and availability and training for this challenging work is very limited.

The MoJ is not monitoring or evaluating the implementation of the ban.  It cannot therefore be established whether victims are being kept safe by this provision or not.

One of the other key changes made by this Act affecting the family court process was to prohibit GPs and other health professionals in general practice from charging a victim of domestic abuse for a letter to support an application for legal aid.

Biscoes solicitors have accredited specialists in domestic abuse who can provide legal advice.  Please contact our senior associate solicitor Franca Webb on 02392 370634 or email