Proposed bar on cross-examination by domestic abusers ‘should apply to family courts’

A proposed automatic bar on alleged domestic abusers cross-examining complainants should be extended from the criminal courts to include the family courts, the Bar Council of Northern Ireland has said.

In a written submission to the call for written evidence on the Domestic Abuse and Family Proceedings Bill, the Bar Council said there “should be an automatic bar once an allegation of domestic abuse has been made in all family proceedings”.

The draft bill currently prohibits cross-examination in person of complainants in proceedings involving domestic abuse in the criminal courts when the person is charged with the offence, but the same automatic bar is not afforded to the family court.

“The Bar fails to see the rationale for the difference in treatment between the courts when the purpose of this part of the Bill is to protect Article 6 rights to a fair hearing of both complainant and defendant as well as ensuring the victim is not subjected to further abuse,” it added.

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