Domestic Abuse Bill (2nd Reading, Oct’19)

Timeline of the Domestic Abuse Bill so far,

  1. In March 2018 the Government set out its intentions for their new Domestic Abuse Bill and invited responses in a public Consultation exercise;
  2. In January 2019 the Government reported on the outcome of this Consultation, together with a draft of the Bill itself;
  3. On 11th June 2019 a Parliamentary Committee (comprising eight women and four men, six from the Commons and six from the Lords) reported on their view of the draft Bill and how it should be amended;
  4. In July 2019 the Government published their response to the Committee’s report;
  5. On the 16th July 2019 the Government released a further draft of the Bill;
  6. On the 7th October the House of Commons held its second reading of the Bill, based on [5].
  7. It has been agreed that the Bill will be carried over to the next session of Parliament, the next stage being the HoC formal Committee stage (date yet unknown).

On 4th July I published a blog article reviewing [1], [2] and [3], above. You can consult that article for the state of play at that time. (Whilst the article is lengthy, it is extremely brief compared to the collected volume of material in [1], [2] and [3]).

In this article I provide an update addressing the content of [4] and how the latest draft of the Bill, [5], differs from the first draft, [2], such changes being (in part) a response to the Committee’s views in [3]. It is of some importance to keep this under review because the Committee’s recommendations went far further than the provisions of the first draft of the Bill in many areas.

This is still early days in the progress of this Bill. One can expect many Amendments to be tabled, not least those which MP Philip Davies has undertaken to make. The latter relate to including parental alienation as a form of domestic abuse (DA), and including false allegations of DA as a form of DA in itself. These proposals are very much to be welcomed, though one would have to blessed with wildly unrealistic optimism to expect such Amendments to succeed. That, however, in no way diminishes the importance of tabling such Amendments. Mr Davies is not the only one to think these measures would be reasonable. Consultation responses to similar effect were made, though oddly they failed to be mentioned in the Government’s report, [2].

I will not cover every clause & issue, which would be tedious and over-long even by my prolix standards. I will concentrate, in turn, on the following four key issues,

  • The definition of DA;
  • The proposed DA Commissioner’s powers;
  • New provisions for criminal sanctions against (alleged) perpetrators;
  • Prohibition of cross-examination of accusers by the accused in the family court.

I’ll not include the links again – they have been given in the numbered list above.

(1) The Definition of DA

Clause 1: The (highly feminist) Committee argued for the definition to be explicit that DA is a “gendered crime”. The Government response appears to be trying to appease the feminist lobby whilst also rejecting the suggestion. The Government writes, in their response to the Committee,

We fully recognise that domestic abuse is a gendered crime, which disproportionally affects women. This is also emphasised in the VAWG Strategy refresh and the National Statement of Expectations, which sets out how local areas should ensure victims of violence and abuse against women and girls get the help they need. However, we believe that it is critical that the statutory definition is gender-neutral so that all types of abuse are identified and that no victim is inadvertently excluded from support or protection.”

And so the Definition remains without the “gendered” flag as of the 2nd reading in October’19 (as indeed it should).

However, in clause 79 (old clause 57) the Government undertook to “recognise the gendered nature of abuse through statutory guidance” and hence have committed in the revised Bill that,

Any guidance issued under this section (i.e., by the Secretary of State) must, so far as relevant, take account of the fact that the majority of victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales are female”.

Whether this is enough to fulfil the feminist lobby’s objectives I cannot determine. I can point to three objectives of the feminist lobby,

  • Protection of feminist patriarchy theory, the overarching rationalisation of the feminist position, which requires that DA is viewed exclusively through the lens of men oppressing women;
  • Funding: it is the endlessly repeated claim that women are the “overwhelming majority” of DA victims that leads to all but the tiniest percentage of funding being allocated to the women’s DA sector – hence the “gendered” perception needs to be maintained to protect funding;
  • Membership of the new DA Commissioner’s Advisory Panel: This will be a very influential panel, and the feminist lobby will want to ensure their voice remains the only voice that is heard in the context of DA. Kowtowing to the “gendered” perception of DA will facilitate keeping representatives of male victims off the panel, as well as effectively vetoing academic experts in DA whose methodology is neutral rather than feminist.

Para 1(3): The types of DA are listed (physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, and psychological, emotional or other abuse). In the latest draft Bill, the following has been added after this list, “and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct”. Not only is this a huge weakening of the definition, but it is also in conflict with the Government’s own definition of coercive or controlling behaviour, namely that, “Coercive or controlling behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of incidents that occur over time”.

At one time I was naïve enough to believe that Bills were scrutinised carefully to avoid such conflicts. I know better now. Inconsistencies between Acts are a blessing to judges: they allow them to make up the law themselves. In the case of serious sexual or violent abuse, a single instance might reasonably be considered sufficient. But a single instance of psychological, emotional, economic or controlling “abuse”? One might regard this definition as an abuse of the concept of abuse.

(2) The Proposed DA Commissioner’s Powers

Clause 9 (DA Commissioner’s Incidental Powers): There is no change to this clause between the earlier and latest drafts of the Bill, but it is worth noting this: “The Commissioner may do anything which the Commissioner considers will facilitate, or is incidental or conducive to, the carrying out of the Commissioner’s functions.” Couple this with the stipulation in Clause 14 that “the Commissioner may request a specified public authority to co-operate with the Commissioner in any way that the Commissioner considers necessary for the purposes of the Commissioner’s functions” and you begin to understand the power which the Commissioner will wield. As the Commissioner will pay close attention to her* Advisory Panel, the influence of the latter will be considerable. This is worth emphasising in view of the undoubted effect that the “gendered” issue will have on the ideological composition of the Advisory Panel.

*Nicole Jacobs has been announced as the Domestic Abuse Commissioner designate, working part time on a salary of up to £140,000.

Clause 12 (old clause 11) (Strategic Plans): This clause relates to strategic plans originating from the Commissioner. The latest draft Bill contains substantial revisions from the earlier draft. The January Bill required the Commissioner’s strategic plan, or revisions thereto, to be approved by the Secretary of State, and the responsibility for laying the plan before Parliament was to reside with the Secretary of State. In the July Bill no approval of the strategic plan by the Secretary of State is required, and the Commissioner has the responsibility to lay the plan before Parliament. The Commissioner need only consult the Secretary of State, which gives the Secretary of State the same status in the production of the plan as the members of the Advisory Panel. This is a huge increase in the power of the Commissioner, in line with the Committee’s wishes.

Clause 15 (old clause 14) (Duty to respond to Commissioner’s recommendations): One of the Committee’s most significant recommendations was that the Commissioner should exercise direct power over Government departments. In the first draft Bill, clause 14 related to the Commissioner’s powers over local authorities, specifically that local authorities must prepare comments on the Commissioner’s reported recommendations, including an explanation of what action has been taken to address the recommendations or an explanation of why this has not been done. In the July draft Bill this requirement to respond to the Commissioner’s recommendations has been extended to include Government departments (any Government department). Hence, there will be an obligation on all affected Ministers to respond to the Commissioner’s recommendations. These changes go a long way to meeting the Committee’s wishes in respect of enhancing the Commissioner’s powers. Specifically, direct accountability to Parliament, providing the Commissioner with a degree of independence from Government, and a degree of supra-governmental powers in respect of being able to exercise leverage over Ministers. This is a remarkable power-grab by the VAWG lobby.

(3) Criminal Sanctions via Protection Notices/Orders: Various changes have been made in respect of homeless perpetrators and appeals against protection orders. The more substantive issues are unchanged but worth reviewing briefly.

A Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN) provides a facility for police to take immediate action when attending a domestic incident. It is effective from time of issue, i.e., immediately, and provides the police with the powers to eject the perceived perpetrator from the home. A DAPN lasts for 48 hours. Within 48 hours of the DAPN being served on the (alleged) perpetrator, an application by police to a magistrates’ court for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) must be heard if the protection is not to lapse. A DAPO can prevent the (alleged) perpetrator from returning to a residence and from having any contact with the (alleged) victim for up to 28 days. This gives the (alleged) victim time to apply for an injunction order, usually a Non-Molestation Order (NMO), which will usually be awarded by the court for a longer duration, typically 6 months. The NMO can be renewed thereafter at the court’s discretion. Hence, the chronological sequence of provisions: DAPN then DAPO then NMO provides the legal means by which an allegation can facilitate the ejection of a man (it will be a man) from his home immediately, and enforce his ejection indefinitely. In addition, these protection orders provide sufficient evidence to meet the requirements of the DA “Gateway” for the accuser’s application for legal aid.

Under the terms of the Bill, these Protection Notices/Orders are not specific to violence but are equally applicable to all behaviours within the definition of Domestic Abuse, i.e., including controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, and psychological, emotional or “other” abuse. Moreover, a single instance is sufficient to establish the abuse and hence the need for protection and hence the ejection of a man from his home, possibly permanently.

Note also that under the terms of the Bill such Notices/Orders could be made without the (alleged) victim’s consent.

A major change to be introduced by the Bill is that breaching the terms of a Protection Notice or Order, currently a Civil offence, will become a criminal offence. The police are also empowered to arrest you, without warrant, if you breach the terms of a DAPN or DAPO and hold you in remand. You should come before a magistrate within 24 hours. In an unusual departure from judicial discretion, clause 36 specifies that if a person is found guilty of a breach of a protection order, the court is not permitted to make a conditional discharge. Mitigation is vetoed.

Raising a DAPN requires only the opinion of a police officer (albeit notionally a senior officer, an inspector). The terms will invariable prohibit any form of contact with the alleged victim. A common scenario is this: the alleged victim ‘phones the alleged perpetrator. He picks up. He has now breached the terms of his DAPN and is liable to arrest without further investigation or warrant. When the magistrate subsequently considers the application for a DAPO, the police officer reports that he has already breached the terms of his DAPN and the magistrate is then strongly inclined to grant the DAPO. This is how the system works. The end result is frequently that the man in question, whose alleged offence typically is never meaningfully investigated in any way, is estranged from his own children, possibly forever.

Rather remarkably, the (floridly feminist) Committee’s report expressed concern that the sanctions against (alleged) perpetrators being put forward in the Bill might be so draconian as to be counterproductive. They wrote, “We are very concerned, however, that the introduction of indefinite time limits, positive requirements and criminal sanctions combine to create such a burden on the perpetrator that the courts will be reluctant to impose the orders in all but the most exceptional of circumstances”. Their concern is not the impact on the (alleged) perpetrator, of course, but the potential for discouraging the usage of the provisions by women.

(4) Prohibition of Cross-Examination of Alleged Victims by Litigants-in-Person

This is addressed in Part 3 of the latest draft Bill. It has not changed, other than in respect of the title, but the Government’s response to the Committee is worth noting (below).

This is probably the most high profile issue addressed in the Bill: a person accused of domestic abuse being able to cross-examine his accuser in the family court. Since the default withdrawal of legal aid from the Civil Courts by the LASPO Act in 2013 it has become common in the family courts for people to be obliged to represent themselves as litigants-in-person (LIPs). This includes the many cases where one parent has been accused of domestic abuse by the other parent, leading to the possibility that an accused person could directly question his accuser in court.

The Bill would prohibit the accused from cross-examining his accuser. To be precise, cross-examination of the accuser by the accused would be prohibited under the Bill if the latter has been convicted of, accepted a caution for, or been charged with, an offence of which the accuser is the victim or alleged victim. He would also be so prohibited if there is an injunction, e.g., a protection order, against him in respect of the (alleged) victim. The Committee was concerned that in many cases these conditions would not be met. They recommended that the mandatory ban be extended to apply if the legal aid “DV Gateway” evidencing criterion is met. This Gateway is as wide as the Grand Canyon (see here) and does not really provide “evidence” in the usual meaning of the word.

The Government has not, so far, obliged the Committee on this issue. However, in their written response to the Committee the Government has observed,

We recognise that many victims are not able to, or choose not to, pursue their abuser through the justice system, and that therefore these victims may not benefit from the automatic prohibition. We have provided for this in the Bill by giving the court the power to give a binding direction, in clearly-defined circumstances, prohibiting cross-examination in person where the threshold for the automatic prohibition is not met*. The court may give a direction prohibiting such cross-examination where they consider that without it the victim would likely suffer significant distress, or the quality of their evidence would likely be diminished, and that it would not be contrary to the interests of justice to give the direction. Our expectation is that this discretion will be widely used, and that every victim of domestic abuse, however it is evidenced, should benefit from the provisions.” *This refers to Clause 31T.

However, they added,

We acknowledge the Committee’s recommendation to extend the range of evidence accepted for the automatic prohibition and will consider this very carefully over the course of the summer, including whether we need to make any amendments to the Bill as introduced.”

…so it is not clear if we have heard the last of this issue yet.

10 thoughts on “Domestic Abuse Bill (2nd Reading, Oct’19)

  1. Valley of the Schmolls

    Callum’s comments are very interesting and merit further consideration, as do the other comments; and thank you to the author for his detailed analysis.

    I have a comment to make regarding.

    ‘(4) Prohibition of Cross-Examination of Alleged Victims by Litigants-in-Person’

    I was not aware of this at the time, but I understand that the judge cannot prevent a litigant-in-person from cross-examining their accuser in court. Is this correct?

    Having no prior legal experience, but aware of the potentially devastating consequences of not being able to challenge my accuser’s evidence directly, I sought to cross-examine them at the Finding of Fact by submitting a summary of PS v BP [2018] EWHC 1987 (Fam) (27 July 2018).

    I noted belatedly after proceedings this passage (from Hayden J in Re: A (a minor) (fact finding; unrepresented party) [2017] EWHC 1195 (Fam) and quoted by Scaratt J at the original FOF):

    “(60) It is a stain on the reputation of our Family Justice system that a Judge can still not prevent a victim being cross examined by an alleged perpetrator.”

    My request was ultimately refused and it was determined that the judge in my case would ask questions on my behalf that I would submit. Of course, the inevitable happened, just as in PS v BP above: the questions were rendered largely ineffective by a judge plainly sympathetic to the accuser. It was clear that the first time he had looked at my questions was in court. There was no opportunity to reexamine the accuser’s testimony and the judge largely ignored any inconsistencies. No impartial observer could describe the proceedings as fair.

    My advice to anyone is to either bite the bullet and pay for a barrister (not a choice that was open to me) or insist on cross-examining your accuser if possible; though this latter option, if it is indeed an option, may end up backfiring and secure more sympathy for the accuser in the eyes of the judge.

    If anyone ever tells you not to worry because the burden of proof lies with the accuser or that you don’t have to prove a negative or other such tommyrot, tell them about the show trials that already exist in secret and have done for some time or the struggle sessions that inevitably follow them where broken men are forced to confess to false allegations in the vain hope of seeing their children again.

    1. William Collins Post author

      The strict formal position at present is a moot question, although in practice judges have the power to do what they see fit in their own court. However, the Bill will certainly strengthen their powers to prohibit cross-examination by LIPs, and oblige them to prohibit it in many cases. I anticipate that cross-examination by LIPs will become very rare and perhaps disappear completely. It is indeed staggering how profoundly many basic principles of justice have been overturned without any great outcry from the public. All the more so in view of the sheer volume of cases, some 50,000 contact cases per year in England & Wales, of which half involve allegations of domestic abuse. And this has been going on for close to half a century now. And yet the public still believe we live in a lovely, lovely just society. If the truth were only a fraction so bad, it might be more readily believed. As it is, the truth beggars belief.

      1. Valley of the Schmolls

        Thank you for your response.

        As in the PS v BP appeal mentioned above, it might be worth insisting on submitting ‘topic headings’ (though these are likely to be fairly obvious and based on allegations in a Scott schedule) to the presiding judge during the Ground Rules Hearing if LIP cross-examination is prohibited. That way, the judge is forced to engage with and evaluate your statements and exhibits, and devise his own questions; hopefully, a sense of duty and professional training would compel him to approach the process more forensically. Should the questioning be flaccid or timorous, schedule response references be unexamined or a series of full tosses, then this may provide a route to appeal.

        The alternative, judge-put questions that the accused devises, is nigh-on impossible to get right unless you have some form of legal training. I believe this also gives this blatantly inequitable alternative a patina of deniability as in, ‘But you were free to put your own questions, Mr X.’

        Very much enjoying your back catalogue, Mr Collins. I am very much obliged to you for your in-depth research and plain-speaking.

      2. Chaffers

        From what I’ve heard over the last couple of days it seems that it is the judicial process itself which has been usurped. Pretty much replaced by a separate legal system….

        Have you ever heard of MARACs? Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences… Nope I hadn’t heard of them either, though the power they wield appears to be truly terrifying.

        The figures I’ve seen indicate that several percent of the UK population will have been subject to a MARAC without ever being aware of it. They are now having to schedule extra days due to the number of them… Basically any disclosure by either a supposed victim or a suspicion raised by anyone from a school teacher to a GP will result in a MARAC. All supposed victim evidence to such is treated as gospel and none of it will ever be disclosed to the subject of the MARAC.

        This however will never be used in open court, either family or criminal. Instead it is merely given to the judge. In other words evidence is submitted to court in a way which the defendant will never be aware of. And it appears this isn’t limited to family court cases. Any situation which involves safeguarding women or children results in a duty for the lawyers to submit such to the judge… One might suppose that longer sentences for those merely defamed by MARACs would result as being in jail indirectly safeguards supposed victims.

        The basic principles of law are that a system must be accountable, just, open and with dispute resolution mechanism should a miscarriage occur.

        MARACs basically make the actual court proceedings largely irrelevant, as they are not accountable. Their conclusions are unevenly applied depending upon how many fat fucking feminists and their individual levels of insanity have pontificated. The subject of a MARAC is never allowed to see or even know of this process and there is no dispute resolution system.

        You are basically tried by a feminist court whose conclusions are then whispered to the judge in a way that you cannot challenge and will not even be aware of. They might as well just measure your head and whisper to the judge that you are a Jew.

        It is basically state sponsored defamation. Which then merely leaks out in reports.

        And don’t assume that this is just social workers and police… 16 agencies attend including GPs, so the quality or lack of medical treatment you get could well be based more upon whether said GP has been told you are a wife beater than your medical needs.

        Also don’t assume that this is restricted to DV or rape cases… Apparently an increasing number of MARACs are called for supposed far right tendencies.. Also a similar system for potential terrorists. Hence I’m guessing why you get the ridiculous stats that almost 30,000 people are on terrorist watch lists.

        The threshold for these is also interesting from the police perspective… Fifteen simple yes no questions which no doubt encourage plod to verge on the side of caution.

        This system, which seems to be an open secret amongst those involved, has many other implications. Given the number of agencies ( 16 are mentioned ) who participate in a MARAC I find the notion that no-one really knew the extent of abuse in Rotherham and the like a completely outrageous lie. The idea that they feared being thought racist is a bit like your wife fearing telling you that she was working as a call girl in case you thought her unfaithful. The MARAC system has been imposed by the home office directly, it appears in part to persue entirely and subhumanly racist policies. Instead of the child having victim like attibutes whispered to the police or the CPS they were labelled by these same agencies as racists, drug abusers and prostitutes. As set out in the Jay report. Indeed on page 2 of the executive summary it explicitly states that “Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the
        ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction
        from their managers not to do so.”

        Clear direction from managers is policy… They used this system to instigate an entirely racist policy upon women and children…..

        Also interestingly the report mentions the MARAC process in an appendix. Though in a way which appears to call for it’s more widespread use. But it is and was used in cases of rape…. Feminists, it appears, never waste a good crisis but find ways to merely tighten the noose.

        So too the police as exposed by the prosecutor Nazir Afzal who revealed an email had stated that the children should not be helped. Also clearly a policy direct from the Home Office.

        Clearly when you subvert the judicial system itself, set up a parallel and superior feminist court which then whispers it’s findings into the ear of the various authorities or judges it can be used and abused to whatever nefarious political ends are desired.

        Frankly that this process is currently controlled by feminists is the least of the problems with it. This truly is secret police territory.

        1. Chaffers

          This appears to be even worse than I first thought…

          The mechanism appears to be that in cases where a man is prosecuted the MARAC’s finding are given to the judge without the defence being aware…. However where a female is prosecuted women’s aid both sits in the MARAC and will then often represent the female by providing a solicitor. As in the case of a man being prosecuted the findings of a MARAC are given to the judge unseen, however women’s aid will know all about such as they were present…

          Hence to get a female client off they don’t even have to broach any isues discussed at a MARAC, merely lead the judge to believe that the finding of such are correct.

          In other words they can coach the female client to manipulate a judge in ways that aren’t even obvious or visible to the prosecution or jury… Hence even if a jury finds them guilty the judge is likely to give them a suspended sentence or allow them to walk free of premeditated murderous hammer attacks etc.

          Some other things start to become clear too… For instance I was told that it was the family court judges who insisted that more children were taken into care. Which seemed very odd. However if you live in a judge’s ivory tower, are a bit thick and have no connection with the real world then every case you see involving a female having some form of domestic abuse backstory might lead you to think that is was almost ever present… I’m guessing this is at least part of the reason why 99.9% of cases are won by the SS and Guardians..

          Women’s aid have basically set up a heads I win, tails you lose system where they are effectively the arbiters of ‘justice’. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see that any female client of any solicitor who has ever represented women’s aid will advise their clients to make allegations of some form of domestic abuse which caused them to break the law.

  2. Callum

    It might be advantageous for men if the prohibition of cross-examination (CE) is enforced. This is already in practice in certain criminal cases under the Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act (1999). Here are two links (the first link might not work) to the Bar Councils document for assistance to legal representatives:

    Whilst the document is concerned with court appointed barristers, it also pertains to barristers appointed by a defendant using the same act, specifically Section 38(2)(a), which it deals with in Paras 7-9. In these paras it makes it clear that a defendant can use an S38 order to instruct a barrister at no cost to themselves. Simply put, if a court determines that a defendant cannot carry out the CE then it is incumbent on the court to cover costs for the defendant, which the Act itself covers. Further to that, if a defendant doesn’t appoint a barrister, leaving the court to do so, the defendant can still ask that barrister to become appointed by them at a later stage. Any barrister appointed by the court rather than the defendant takes a neutral role.

    Whilst it is not included in the document, you should be aware that a defendant can request this order if it is not statutory covered. Statutory cases include rape, assault, etc, but crimes such as theft, criminal damage, burglary, etc, are not. As long as it can be shown by the defendant that this is a “domestic” case (which is simple to do), then any sane judge will grant the order (most judges will insist on this anyway). This same principal will likely be in practice in Family Court where allegations are raised that aren’t statutory covered, in this instance those that do not meet the threshold as outlined by the proposed bill. As long as the father can show that him undertaking the CE is a sub-optimal solution, which should be straight forward, a judge can make the order for a paid for barrister (that’s the hope anyway).

    The Domestic Abuse Bill appears to be proposing the same legal framework as this. I believe that as long as it is communicated properly to fathers the need to ensure that the barrister is appointed directly by them, then it becomes a great tool. I had to CE my ex in Family Court, but had finances allowed a professional would have been much preferred, for obvious reasons.

    Para 11 explains how the guidance should be given by the court to a defendant, and as long as this is consistent in Family Court then it should be easy for men to work out that this is in their best interests.

    Para 12 explains that the barrister is entitled to see the evidence in the case. In a Family Court case, this is likely to include everything as it will all hold some relevance (even pre-report work by CAFCASS).

    Para 14 explains that the barrister is entitled to work for the defendant Pro Bono outside of the CE, which may become relevant.

    Para 22 explains that the barrister may need to hear the defence evidence. This is a crucial point. In criminal cases the person making the allegation, in tandem with the CPS, presents their case first, and is usually the first witness. This means in criminal cases the barrister arrives and leaves at the beginning. In a standard Family Court case, the father is the claimant which means that they state their case first, as the respondent (mother) is entitled to hear the evidence against them before their own case.

    A standard Family Court final hearing will take one to two days, so the barrister who is there to undertake CE will need to be at court ready for when the respondents (mothers) case begins, in effect requiring them to be at the court house at the beginning of the trial. As they are being paid to wait around, I see no reason a judge wouldn’t allow them to observe the trial to help with the CE. The barrister will also need to speak to the father before the case starts to ascertain the areas he wishes to discuss in the CE, and then again before the CE starts as his own evidence and CE may have thrown up further issues. Whilst the barrister could not be seen to be helping the father in court, they are entitled to raise with the judge and opposing counsel areas of law and point out whether certain evidence is admissible or not, which could be of great help.

    Whilst paras 33 & 34 state that the barrister is not to work on the behalf of the defendant outside of the CE unless instructed to do so, this is easily bypassed. Simply, in a Family Court case the barrister can explain the evidence they believe is best for the CE and the areas of focus. By doing so, they can easily point out the areas that the father should be focused on in their own oral evidence, so as to help them later with the CE. Considering the barrister will have had the full evidence in their possession for sometime before the trial date, this could be incredibly valuable advice. Most barristers would want to help anyway, if the alternative is to just sit around waiting by themselves.

    In para 26 it points out that early stage appointment is possible if required. In family court, allegations of abuse will usually be put forward at the outset, so it would be entirely possible for an early appointment to be relevant and likely desirable by the court. Where there are allegations of abuse, an S7 report is required, which is submitted before any fact finding hearing, or a final hearing dependent on the route the court takes. The parties will then submit their written statement and evidence, which a barrister instructed for a CE would obviously be entitled to discuss with a father before submission to ensure any relevant evidence is being put forward.

    Apologises for the length of this comment, I’m just trying to communicate the unintended advantages that could arise by prohibition of CE, as long as fathers are given the correct advice (which any decent barrister would anyway). Maybe FNF and like minded groups could make available lists of legal firms that would be amenable to undertaking CE in a positive manner, and those that would *nudge nudge wink wink* help the father further whilst being paid by the court for CE only. This could be the greatest unintended gift given to fathers by the VAWG lobby, as long as we play it correctly.

  3. J Johnson

    Here’s an idea I had about how to kill the DA bill. In the US, if a law is not drafted in a precise manner and is ambigous, then the courts rule it unlawful and it is struck down. It’s called the Vagueness Doctrine. US and UK law are extremely similar. Is there a UK equivalent to the Vagueness Doctrine that we could use to do a JR on the DA Bill given its provisions are so subjective and vague?

    Vagueness Doctrine:

    “In American constitutional law, a statute is void for vagueness and unenforceable if it is too vague for the average citizen to understand or if a term cannot be strictly defined and is not defined anywhere in such law, thus violating the vagueness doctrine. There are several reasons a statute may be considered vague; in general, a statute might be called void for vagueness reasons when an average citizen cannot generally determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed. For example, criminal laws which do not state explicitly and definitely what conduct is punishable are void for vagueness. A statute is also void for vagueness if a legislature’s delegation of authority to judges and/or administrators is so extensive that it would lead to arbitrary prosecutions. Related to the “void for vagueness” concept is the “unconstitutional vagueness” concept”

  4. Douglas Milnes

    Reading the Commissioner’s powers reads so alike to how the feminists gained control of the United Nations. They used the care over female victims to ultimately make all departments answerable to a single feminist body, and therefore the whole body into a feminist organisation.

  5. Groan

    I have to observe that the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, through successive Governments has done a good job in marginalising any Male victims and keeping up the “ring fenced” funding to the DV “industry”. Certainly it seems the Bill will further enshrine this.
    One Hopes that we all can influence someone to prevent the most egregious provisions of the Bill. I expect there is renewed feminist pressure on this as they have had a significant reverse in the “believe” and evidence fixing with regard to sexual crimes. All the more surprising is the success in getting the press to equate all sorts of behaviours as rape.
    It is a tough and constant trial but one has to overcome the very very deep Male need to protect and “save” women and constantly push for the rule of law and due process.


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