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Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

Prohibition of cross-examination in person

15.The Act prohibits, in family proceedings, cross-examination in person by a party who has been convicted of, given a caution for, or is charged with a specified offence, of a witness who is the victim, or alleged victim, of that offence; and by a party against whom an on-notice injunctive order is in force for the protection of a witness. It also creates a power for the Department to specify evidence of domestic abuse that, if adduced by a party to family proceedings, would prohibit cross-examination in person by a party to whom the evidence relates. The Act further gives a court a discretionary power to direct that a party may not cross-examine in person if it considers that such cross-examination is likely to diminish the quality of evidence or cause significant distress to the witness to be cross-examined.

16.Where cross-examination is prohibited, the Act makes provision enabling the court to appoint a legal representative to conduct the cross-examination on behalf of the party prohibited from so doing, the cost of which will be paid by the Department. It also allows the Department to issue guidance in connection with the role of the appointed legal representative.

17.With regards to civil proceedings, the Act gives a court a discretionary power to prohibit cross-examination in person if certain conditions are met. There is also provision for the court to appoint a legal representative, funded by the Department, to carry out the cross-examination instead and for the Department to issue guidance about their role in the proceedings.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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