With lockdowns linked to a rise in domestic violence, the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is a very welcomed piece of new legislation. Among other positive changes, it has introduced domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders. It is hoped that these will be very effective alternatives to non-molestation orders and occupation orders in the right circumstances.
Firstly, domestic abuse protection orders are broader, allowing the court to impose any requirements necessary to protect the person for whose benefit the order is made. This will allow courts to go further than the usual prohibitions made by the injunctions mentioned.
Secondly, they make protection for victims of domestic abuse more accessible. Legal aid is still available for victims of domestic abuse who are financially eligible. For those who are not, the legal costs of representation on an application for an injunction are often prohibitive. With new powers under this act, the police can issue domestic abuse protection notices and then apply for ongoing orders, meaning some victims can avoid having to bring their own application.
What is a domestic abuse protection notice?
A domestic abuse protection notice is a notice made by the police against a person, which prohibits them from contacting another named person, and/or may prohibit them from coming within a specified distance of their home. It can specifically prohibit them from evicting or excluding the named victim from their home and can require them to leave their home or prevent them from entering it. These notices are therefore very similar to what occupation orders and non-molestation orders achieve.
When can a domestic abuse protection notice be made?
The police can make the notice if it is reasonable to believe a person has been abusive towards a person aged 16 or above to whom they are personally connected; and there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is necessary to give the notice to protect the person from domestic abuse or the risk of domestic abuse.
Within 48 hours of the initial giving of the notice, there will be a magistrates’ court hearing to determine the application for a domestic abuse protection order.
What is a domestic abuse protection order?
Similar to the notice, its purpose is to prevent someone from being abusive towards another person to whom they are personally connected. However, it is broader, in that it can impose any requirements that are necessary to protect the person being protected by the order.
Who can apply for a domestic abuse protection order?
An order can be made on application by the police following a domestic abuse protection notice, or during other proceedings. A person seeking protection can apply for a domestic abuse protection order from the family court.
What is the test for making a domestic abuse protection order?
The court has to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the person has been abusive to another person aged 16 or over to whom they are personally connected, and that the order is necessary and proportionate to protect that person from domestic abuse or the risk of abuse.
What happens if a domestic abuse protection order is breached?
An order is breached if without reasonable excuse the person fails to comply with the requirements imposed by the order. Breach of an order is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment or a fine, or both.
Domestic abuse protection notices and orders provide an opportunity for the police and courts to more effectively protect victims of domestic violence. We hope these new powers will be embraced fully and that the courts will be creative, thinking outside of the usual prohibitions imposed by occupation orders and non-molestation orders, to prohibit all forms of domestic abuse.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.