English Court of Appeal decision stresses need for understanding of Domestic Abuse within Judiciary

Claire Edgar

28 April 2021

In March 2021, the Court of Appeal in England handed down judgement in four appeals dealing with how allegations of domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour should be addressed by the Family Courts.  

In the judgement the Court emphasised “the importance of the modern judiciary having a proper understanding of the nature of domestic abuse and in particular of the controlling and coercive behaviour and of its impact on both the victims and the children caught up in the atmosphere engendered in such a household.” 

Our Family Law Partner Claire Edgar has welcomed the English Court of Appeal’s emphasis on the importance of proper training in domestic abuse for the judiciary, commenting as follows:- 

“Given the Covid 19 restrictions that remain in place in Northern Ireland, it is more important than ever that victims of domestic abuse within our jurisdiction are heard and believed by our Courts. It is vital that the internalised beliefs of members of the judiciary  do not interfere with a victim’s recourse to seek the protection of the Court and that victims are not discouraged from seeking this protection because of an inherent fear of being further victimized by the justice system.  

Myths surrounding domestic abuse have the effect of creating and continuing an attitude within our society that victims are somehow to blame for the abuse they suffer. This can ultimately cause a victim to feel shame and disempowerment. In fact, it is these victim-blaming attitudes which contribute to many people staying in abusive relationships and not seeking police assistance for their protection.   It is therefore so important that these myths are not perpetuated particularly by our Court system which plays such a pivotal role in ensuring that victims are protected.” 

For advice or assistance in relation to any matter concerning domestic abuse, Claire can be contacted by email on cedgar@fhanna.co.uk or by phone on 028 9024  3901