The lord chancellor will end the cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their abusive ex-partners in the family courts, the Prisons and Courts Bill states.
The bill has yet to be published, but according to a factsheet published by the ministry, the use of virtual hearings will be extended, allowing victims to take part in proceedings without having to meet their attacker face-to-face.
Last month justice minister Sir Oliver Heald told MPs that the lord chancellor had requested urgent advice on how to put an end to the practice, which is banned in the criminal courts.
Heald said the government was looking in particular at the provisions in the criminal law that prevent alleged perpetrators from cross-examining alleged victims in criminal proceedings, and how it might apply similar provisions in the family courts.
He added that related ancillary matters would also require primary legislation.
Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, first highlighted concerns about vulnerable witnesses giving evidence in family proceedings in 2014, setting up a working group to look at the issue.
In his latest View from the president’s chambers, Munby revealed that the ministry conducted research into private law cases where the court was faced with the prospect of an alleged perpetrator seeking to cross-examine an alleged victim of domestic abuse.
The ministry has published the research today.
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Courts bill: domestic violence cross-examination pledge