Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, has backed calls for a ban on people accused of domestic violence cross-examining their alleged victims in the family courts.
Although this practice has been banned in criminal courts, it still occurs during family hearings when the accused person is an unrepresented litigant in person.
Following a story in The Guardian highlighting the issue, a spokesman for the President’s office told the paper that Sir James would “welcome a bar” but that he did not personally hold the authority to ban the practice without parliamentary legislation.
The President was very aware of the “pressing need” for changes to the way which vulnerable witnesses give evidence in family proceedings, the spokesman insisted.
“[Sir James] has made clear his view that the family justice system lags woefully behind the criminal justice system. He has expressed particular concern about the fact that alleged perpetrators are able to cross-examine their alleged victims, something that, as family judges have been pointing out for many years, would not be permitted in a criminal court.”