The President of the Family Division, James Munby has announced today that the Ministry of Justice will be collecting information on issues surrounding the direct cross examination of vulnerable witnesses by LIPs with a view to carrying out a research study.
This research will focus on Private Law hearings in the Family Court or Family Division where an issue arises in relation to the actual or potential cross-examination of a vulnerable or intimidated witness, by a litigant in person accused of domestic abuse.
Family law judges at every level will be the first to be approached in relation to this matter. Those judges participating will be asked to fill out forms relating to cases where this kind of cross examination occurs or may have occurred. Data will be collected from 2nd March until 29th May of this year. Once the data has been gathered, the research for this project will take place, with a view to seeking out what powers are available to deal with this area and to find ways to support vulnerable witnesses being directly questioned by self represented applicants.
You can access his statement from the link above, but we have produced it below for you also:
“I am pleased to report that the Ministry of Justice is intending to gather information, and subsequently undertake a research study, on private law cases where direct cross examination of a vulnerable witness by a litigant in person is, or threatens to be, an issue.
They will start by asking family judges at all levels who have such cases in front of them at any stage of proceedings to complete the attached form. I am therefore asking you to assist in the project by ensuring that if such a case comes before you, you complete and return the form to the named HMCTS contact.
The data collection stage of the process will begin next Monday 2nd March and run until the 29th May. The research study will then explore the powers available to manage these cases and seek to establish what else could be considered to support both the management of the cases and protection of vulnerable witnesses.
I very much hope that you will assist in the project by completing the forms in every relevant case and by agreeing to take part in the subsequent research, to which I expect to give my formal approval later this year.
The Court staff will ensure that you have access to the forms and details of the contact and if you have any questions they should be directed to that contact or to my office via Jo Wilkinson (Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you very much for your assistance in this important project.
The form for this study can be downloaded by clicking on the link above and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.