Posted by Dan Ruddick

The introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of domestic abuse have risen astronomically, together with the demand for protective injunctions. In response to this, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has now received Royal Assent, coming into force by the end of 2021/early 2022.

It is hoped that this new regulation will be able to provide protection, which is available to everybody and provides a safety net with no room for error.

The most important feature of the Act is that it introduces the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that it is not just physical but can include emotional, economic, and coercive and controlling abuse. This provides a zero tolerance of domestic abuse in all forms. The change in law reflects the growing importance of coercive control which coincides with recent case law encouraging a full recognition of all different types of abuse. This will hopefully bring about a platform for educational and social awareness.

What’s changing?

There will be an introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPO’s) and Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPNs).

DAPO and DAPNs will replace the current Domestic Violence Protection Orders and whilst Non-molestation Orders will remain in force for the time being, these new orders will be seen to be the first resort.

The DAPO and DAPNs will impose similar restrictions to the current protective injunctions however it will bring about the addition of a positive requirement such as a mandatory attendance of a domestic abuse perpetrators programme. For instance:

DAPN – ensure the abuser cannot contact or come within a specific distance of where the victim lives and can evict or exclude the abuser from entering their home.

DAPO prohibit a party from doing certain things.

The Act also shifts in that it recognises that victims of abuse do not have to live with their perpetrator, meaning that after separation, the court will recognise that victims can still be subject to abuse.

The Order will also impact on the party’s ability to participate, bringing about an automatic presumption of special measures meaning that where one party have been given a caution, charged with an offence against another, there will be an automatic ban on cross examination in person. Previously, the Family Court were under a duty to consider participation however this diminished by reason on vulnerability.

In addition to the above, the Act will introduce a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, meaning it is required by law to disclose to an individual or third party whether their current or former partner had an abusive past where it is reasonable to do so.

These Orders are due to be piloted over the course of the next two years.

At Hindle Campbell we recognise that abuse comes in various forms and have experience on advising victims to find the light at the end of the tunnel. If you feel you need our services, then please contact us on 0191 296 1777 or by e-mail at advice@hindle-campbell.co.uk