Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018
The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee's inquiry into the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018 was prepared by the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. The Law Council is also grateful to the Law Society of South Australia, the Law Society of New South Wales, the Queensland Law Society for their assistance with the preparation of this submission.
The Law Council previously made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department in response to the Exposure Draft of the Bill released in July 2017 (the Exposure Draft Bill). The Law Council’s primary position in response to the Exposure Draft Bill can be summarised by the following passage from that earlier submission:
The Law Council acknowledges that, for survivors of family violence, the prospect of being cross-examined by a violent ex-partner can cause significant emotional distress and trauma and discourage them from continuing litigation. The Law Council therefore supports consideration being given to alternatives to direct cross-examination wherever possible.
However, the Law Council is concerned that proposals that preclude, automatically ban or constrain cross-examination are inimical to each of:
- the interests and rights of litigants, whether victim or perpetrator;
- the ability of the court to properly determine issues, including to properly identify and address issues of and arising from family violence;
- the efficient delivery of access to justice;
- the cost-effective and timely delivery of justice in cases involving family violence, and fundamentally misunderstand the nature and role of cross-examination.
You can read the full submission below.