"The decision to introduce a legal definition of domestic violence is a huge step forward, as it will apply more clarity to cases and will, in theory, help bring more perpetrators to justice."
Cygnet Law, a family law specialist solicitor based in Redcar, is applauding the Government’s recent decision to update Clare’s Law to give everyone the legal right to check the domestic violence history of their own partners or those of relatives and close friends.
The firm has a dedicated domestic violence team and has represented many individuals in complex and sensitive cases. It is also a frequent fundraiser for EVA Women's Aid and Rape Crisis in Redcar.
Clare’s Law, known officially as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), has been in place since 2014, however at that time it only allowed police to disclose information to partners on a discretionary basis. It has now been passed as legislation, and updates to the bill include the first statutory definition of domestic violence.
The definition not only includes physical acts of violence, but also includes acts that are psychological, sexual, economic, emotional, and controlling and coercive behaviour. It applies to partners or family members of any gender or sexual orientation.
Clare’s Law was introduced as a scheme in 2014 in memory of Clare Woods, a mother from Salford, who was murdered by her ex-partner George Appleton in 2009. Appleton had a history of domestic violence, and Clare’s father, who campaigned for the introduction of the scheme, maintains that his daughter may still be alive had Appleton’s past been disclosed to her.
Louise White, a solicitor at Cygnet Law, said: “Although Clare’s Law has existed as a scheme for about five years, we wholeheartedly welcome the move for it to become legislation. The decision to introduce a legal definition of domestic violence is a huge step forward, as it will apply more clarity to cases and will, in theory, help bring more perpetrators to justice.
“Domestic violence can appear in many forms, whether that be physical abuse, withholding money or essential items, verbal and emotional abuse, or controlling the behaviour of another person. Any steps that can be taken to ensure that fewer people live in fear that they or a loved one may be subjected to this kind of behaviour is incredibly positive.”