The new Domestic Abuse Act 2021

With local council elections taking place today, we now have the prorogation of Parliament until this is finalised. Before this took place 16 separate Bills were able to be passed through and given Royal Asset on 29 April. One such Bill was The Domestic Abuse Bill which will now be known as The Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

This ‘landmark’ Act will provide further protections to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse and strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators. For the first time in history, there will be a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse incorporating a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.

Home Secretary Priti Patel made these comments in relation to what some believe is a long overdue change to the law: ‘This landmark act will transform  the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.’

Measures introduced in the Act include:

  • providing a broad legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates abuse beyond physical violence
  • ensuring that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts in England and Wales
  • establishing in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and setting out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
  • giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation
  • providing police with new powers including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices to provide victims with immediate protection from abusers
  • enabling courts to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour
  • amendments proposed earlier in 2021, including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation and widening revenge porn laws.
  • imposing a legal duty on councils across England to provide support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation
  • providing that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
  • placing the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s law’) on a statutory footing

No one should suffer in silence and if you are experiencing any behaviour from your partner which you believe would now fall under the new definition of domestic abuse, please speak out. Our family solicitors are ready and willing to listen to you in strict confidence and can provide advice on the options available to you. Please speak to our team by calling 01473 611 211.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Divorce Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email