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Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

Section 4 – Evidence of impact on victim

27.Section 4(1) provides, for the avoidance of doubt, that the prosecutor does not need to establish that the accused’s behaviour actually caused the victim to suffer physical or psychological harm in order for the offence to be committed.

28.Similarly, section 4(2) provides that it is not necessary to prove that a relevant effect under section 2(3) has actually been experienced by the victim.

29.This is because a ‘reasonable person’ test applies both in section 1(2)(a) (in relation to physical or psychological harm) and 2(2)(b)(2) (in relation to ‘relevant effects’). It is therefore sufficient that a reasonable person would consider it likely that the behaviour would result in the victim suffering physical or psychological harm, or experiencing a ‘relevant effect’. So, for example, section 2(2)(b) would cover behaviour which a reasonable person would consider likely to frighten, humiliate, punish or degrade the victim, irrespective of whether the victim suffers actual fear, humiliation, punishment or degradation.

30.Section 4(3) clarifies that this provision does not prevent evidence being led of actual harm suffered by the victim as a result of the alleged course of behaviour, or of effects that the behaviour actually had on the victim.

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