Landmark Domestic Abuse Bill receives Royal Assent 

07/05/2021

Landmark Domestic Abuse Bill receives Royal Assent 

On the 29th of April, the Domestic Abuse Bill passed both Houses of Parliament and has been signed into law. This landmark legislation means that, for the first time in history, there will be a wide-ranging legislative definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive, or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.

The bill provides much awaited protection to victims of domestic abuse, strengthening measures to tackle perpetrators and giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.

Various significant amendments have been added since it was first introduced in 2019 including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and extending an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images.

Other measures included in the act include:  

  • extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse.
  • explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear, or experience the effects of abuse. 
  • establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers.
  • placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation.
  • provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance.
  • place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing.

Claire Throssell, MBE Survivor Ambassador for Women’s Aid said:

“As a survivor and domestic abuse campaigner, the new act is a chance to make sure survivors are safe, protected and loved. The vital changes to the family court are long overdue and everyone accessing them deserves better. It is high time the family courts are safe and supportive, protecting victims and survivors instead of shielding perpetrators.”

Amanda Connor, Family Law partner at Russell & Russell Solicitors says:

“Our Family department has assisted victims of domestic abuse and worked alongside local refuges for a long time; we have seen the huge impact that this abuse has on victims and their families and it is a relief that this legislation has finally been passed. I hope that it provides victims with the courage to seek help and protection.”

Specialist Family Law Solicitors 

Our specialist family law solicitors at Russell and Russell Solicitors have the expert knowledge and experience to deal with sensitive domestic abuse cases and can provide advice and guidance on matters such as injunction proceedings or occupation orders and we are on hand to guide you through your legal rights sensitively and confidentially.

If you need urgent legal advice outside of office hours, you can also contact our 24hour Family Law Emergency Advice Line: 01204 847999

However, if you find yourself in danger; we urge you to contact the police. If you call the police but you feel it is too dangerous to talk, by pressing ‘55’ after calling the emergency services, the police will still respond. Silent solution 55 is the name given to the initiative that allows people to call 999

even when they are not able to speak. This will mean that the call will still be put through to the police and they will be notified that you are in a situation that makes talking or whispering difficult.

 

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