Are you 30 years out of date?

This week I had a real treat.  On Friday I was asked to talk to a group of judges about the role of MARACs in relation to the Family Courts.  As part of this, I had the opportunity to listen to HH Judge John Platt on the subject of Family Law Act injunctions.  So the things I learnt were:

  • That the breach of a non-molestation order is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  ( I did know that).  But, any offence which carries a potential sentence of 5 years gives the defendent the right to have trial by jury.  Probably not what was intended when the law was passed!
  • That judges can now use a selection of standard clauses to put appropriate constraints within a non-mol order.  These now include ‘making or causing to make abusive comments via Facebook or other social networking sites’.  Useful for IDVAs to know about.

And the 30 years out of date?  In the words of HH Judge John Platt, in reference to those granting non-molestation orders: ‘Those of you who are looking for recent violence are 30 years out of date.’  So the message about the significance of jealous and controlling behaviour, stalking and harassment was not lost on this audience.

2 Comments to “Are you 30 years out of date?”

  1. Many of the IDVAs I have met recently have said that without a recent, incident of violence they struggle to get a solicitor to take a case on, let alone bring an application to court. HH Judge John Platt’s words are useful and this message is clear at agencies like the NCDV, but local provision is so variable. Moreover, recent violence does seem to be a criteria for “without notice” applications for non molestation orders which can have safety implications for victims of domestic abuse.

    Hopefully the Panorama shown last night on stalking will have emphasised HH Judge John Platt’s message widely. The case study used was a striking example of jealous ,controlling behaviour and of the dedication shown by perpetrators in stalking behaviour.

  2. And this will be doubly important if the proposed changes to legal aid come into effect. If so, in order to demonstrate that you are a victim of domestic abuse in private law cases (and therefore get legal aid), it will be necessary to have either a criminal conviction or a current injunction. It is hard not to feel really worried.

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