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Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

Section 3: Impact of behaviour on victim

This section provides that the partner/connected person need not have actually suffered physical or psychological harm for the offence to be committed.  It also states that it is not necessary for the effects of the behaviour covered by section 2(3) (such as dependency, subordination, isolation, control, etc.) to have actually been suffered by the partner/connected person for the offence to have been committed.

This is because a reasonable person test applies both in section 1(2)(a) in relation to physical or psychological harm and section 2(2)(c)(ii) in relation to ‘relevant effects’.  It is therefore sufficient that a reasonable person would consider it likely that the behaviour would result in the partner/connected person suffering physical or psychological harm, or experiencing a ‘relevant effect’.  So, for example, section 2(2)(c) would cover behaviour which a reasonable person would consider likely to frighten, humiliate, degrade, punish or intimidate the partner/ connected person, irrespective of whether they actually suffer fear, humiliation, degradation, punishment or intimidation.

In turn, this section  clarifies that evidence is not prevented from being presented of actual harm, or effects arising, as a result of the alleged course of behaviour or the effects that the behaviour actually had on the partner/connected person.  Such evidence therefore remains relevant in the case.

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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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