The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has published guidance on the need to protect victims of domestic abuse in remote and hybrid hearings.
The report, Safety from Domestic Abuse and Special Measures in Remote and Hybrid Hearings, says the guidance applies to all family proceedings where domestic abuse has been proven or may be an issue, “i.e. hearings for protection orders, s.8 orders, financial proceedings and care proceedings”.
It provides a checklist of considerations for proceedings in which domestic abuse is an issue.
The report also covers:
- Arranging the hearing, including the format of the hearing.
- Personal protection.
- Special measures/participation directions.
- Delivering the court’s decision.
- Urgent and without notice hearings.
- Fact-finding hearings.
- Service of protective orders.
The guidance was prepared by the Family Justice Council’s Domestic Abuse Working Group, with assistance from Darren Howe QC and Jo Delahunty QC
Sir Andrew said: “The guidance applies to all family proceedings where domestic abuse has been proved or may be an issue and it has been drafted to ensure the delivery of safe evidence and full participation of vulnerable parties. The guidance provides an important checklist that should be used to decide upon the format of the hearing, including identifying any need for appropriate personal protection or additional special measures.
“The guidance is for all those involved in family proceedings including court staff, the judiciary, lawyers, and domestic abuse organisations. I am grateful to the Domestic Abuse Working Group of the Family Justice Council for its work in producing the guidance which I believe will be an important resource for the work of the Family Court.”