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Munby P updates domestic abuse practice advice

Domestic abuse ‘a scourge on our society’, says president

14 September 2017

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The president of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has amended his practice direction on dealing with vulnerable witnesses in domestic abuses cases with immediate effect.

Among several updates are mandatory requirements which increase the level of reporting around children and greater transparency around fact-finding hearings.

The practice direction also includes an expanded definition of “domestic abuse”, which includes psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, or culturally specific abuse.

The updated practice direction is informed by a report Munby commissioned from Mr Justice Cobb last year, the findings of which have been reviewed by the Family Justice Council and the Family Procedure Rule Committee.

Munby said the new PD12J “will require further adjustment if and when the proposed legislation restricting cross-examination of alleged victims by alleged perpetrators is enacted”.

However, he added: “We cannot await that. Hence my decision to proceed without further delay”.

Despite acknowledging the additional burden imposed on judges and court staff, he said: “there is good reason for making these requirements mandatory and they must be complied with”.

He reiterated his expectation for the Judicial College to deliver thorough training on the new requirements.

Dubbing domestic abuse “a scourge on our society”, Munby added: “Judges and everyone else in the family system need to be alert to the problems and appropriately focused on the available remedies. PD12J plays a vital part.”

Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, reporter

hannah.gannage-stewart@solicitorsjournal.co.uk

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Family Courts & Judiciary