Domestic abuse: moves to reform in Spring 2018
The Home Office Interpersonal Violence Team plan a consultation exercise for reform of domestic abuse law; and the Sentencing Council had issued guidelines (published late in February 2018 which are intended to highlight the variety of forms domestic abuse can cover and the threat to the abused which it poses. Both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have mentioned the subject in the House of Commons. This article looks at:
(1) A working definition: ‘molestation’, ‘domestic violence’ and domestic abuse and where the law now stands in Spring 2018;
(2) Recent important Court of Appeal activity on cases under Family Law Act 1996 Pt 4 and concerning non-molestation orders;
(3) Statutory protection for complainants from cross-examination by alleged abusers: how does this compare as between the Family Court and in criminal proceedings; and
(4) Legal aid for defendants in domestic abuse proceedings: do European Convention 1950 Art 6(3) and proof to the criminal standard apply?
Cases of the month: February 2018
M (A Child)  EWCA Civ 240 (20 February 2018) – Despite the mother’s success on her appeal against a placement order made at first instance, she was denied costs.
Re R (Children)  EWCA Civ 198 (16 February 2018) – A father (F) killed the mother of their child, and was acquitted of murder. How should the Family Court deal with such facts on a local authority’s application for a care order?
Kerman v Akhmedova  EWCA Civ 307 (27 February 2018) – Appeal against AAZ v BBZ & Ors (No 2)  EWHC 3349 (Fam), where Haddon-Cave J had held that the arranging of insurance, and therefore information concerning it, was not covered by LPP.
A v A  EWHC 340 (Fam) (28 February 2018), Cohen J – Parties had agreed terms in a carefully drafted consent order in 2011. When this came unstuck because the parties' properties did not sell as they had expected W applied for release from undertakings. The circuit judge agreed. Cohen J allowed H’s appeal, with full decision to follow later.
WS v HS (appeal - sale of matrimonial home)  EWFC 11 (28 February 2018), Cobb J – Sale of parties’ former matrimonial home at an interim stage in financial relief proceedings disallowed on appeal; and Cobb J’s full explanation as to why.
4 March 2018
Family Law Briefing is part of the Bloomsbury Family Law Service. The full briefing is available here.