Search Legislation

Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

Section 1: The domestic abuse offence

This section makes it an offence for a person to engage in a course of behaviour (defined in section 4(4) as behaviour on at least two occasions) which is abusive of another person with whom they are at the time of the course of behaviour personally connected.  Section 5 defines what two people are personally connected.  For the purpose of this commentary, these personally connected persons will be referred to as “the accused” and their “partner/connected person”.

Subsection (2) provides that the offence is subject to two further conditions being met.  The first of these conditions is that a reasonable person would consider that the course of behaviour would be likely to cause the partner/connected person to suffer physical or psychological harm, which includes fear, alarm and distress (see subsection (3)).  The court would be entitled to take account of the circumstances of the case, for example any particular vulnerability of the partner/connected person, in considering whether the accused’s behaviour would be likely to cause them to suffer physical or psychological harm.

The second of these conditions is that the accused must either intend that the behaviour causes their partner/connected person to suffer harm or is reckless as to this.  This condition could be met in a reckless situation where, for example, the accused is persistently verbally abusive and demeaning towards their partner/connected person but claims that they did not intend the behaviour to cause harm.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

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.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources