Abuse of Process Campaign Launches to help victims

Voice4Victims is launching today their new Parliamentary Campaign, ABUSE OF PROCESS which aims to prevent perpetrators making vexatious court applications and complaints across the whole of the Criminal Justice System. This legal abuse, often sanctioned by the Courts and Justice agencies, is placing victims at great risk of harm and causing emotional and financial distress.

Voice4Victims has received scores of cases of victims of stalking, harassment, domestic violence and coercive control, who are being re-victimised by their perpetrator initiating baseless claims or complaints via the Courts or the Police. The perpetrator’s only motive is to cause further damage, humiliate, discredit and frighten the victim.

Voice4Victims held a conference in July this year, in the House of Commons, with key note speakers Keir Starmer, MP and Jess Phillips, MP to highlight the different legal platforms, perpetrators have the right to access and exploit, in order to keep unwanted contact with their victims and abuse them further.

Voice4Victims is today launching their Abuse of Process report with their recommendations abuse-of-process-28th-november-report-final-1-pdf
based on this conference and their work so far in supporting victims experiencing this form of abuse. Their report highlights the alarming rise in cases where victims are being cross examined, stalked, harassed and abused by these proceedings.

There is a common misconception that perpetrators have an absolute right to access a range of legal processes. These include the civil courts, often with spurious financial claims and the family courts through contact orders. Due to cuts to legal aid, perpetrators have the ability to cross examine their victims in person. In addition, private prosecutions and false allegations to the Police are being initiated for a range of matters including sexual harassment, stalking, theft, fraud, professional misconduct and malpractice.

The impact on the victims is further fear, anxiety, distress and financial hardship causing a severe effect on the quality of family life. Often children are deliberately used as part of this abuse of process in the Family Courts and victims are forced to respond and engage with their perpetrator’s legal claims or else they will face penalties. This process makes the victim become isolated as many are not eligible to access legal aid nor specialist support to help them achieve justice and protection from this form of abuse. The predominantly female victims are being re-victimised by the State with agency or court officials allowing these vexatious claims to proceed due to a lack of understanding of the real intention of the perpetrator. These perpetrators are fixated and obsessed with the victim and have a strong desire to control their lives and are using the courts and legal processes as a weapon of power and control. Many have criminal convictions or are subject to restraining orders or prohibitions orders and the Family & Civil courts are often unaware of their existence. Voice4Victims is finding that the state is often complicit in this abuse by facilitating these unsafe proceedings and as a consequence, the voice of the victim is lost in the process.

Today, Voice4Victims is launching this much needed campaign through a combination of Parliamentary activity and test case advocacy. This will involve the drafting of a Parliamentary Bill and with the support of a specialist Human Rights legal team, the evaluation of cases in order to pursue remedies for the victims. These will be through Judicial Reviews and other actions which will help bring about much needed change through case law and directives.

Voice4Victims will draft a bill which is likely to gain All Party Support. The Bill will:
• Place a duty on all Court jurisdictions to cooperate and communicate when the same victim is involved
• Strengthen the sanctions for breaches of all prohibition and restraining orders
• Give victims the right to bring to a court details of their perpetrators behaviour and convictions
• Place a duty on the complainant to give the court details of any convictions, restraining orders or past applications involving the victim
• Allow the Family or Civil court to investigate a victim’s claim of abuse of process
• Allow the courts to strike out vexatious applications before impacting the victim
• Introduce mandatory training for all court personnel and justice agencies on abuse of process
• Ensure that directions and guidance are issued by the Secretary of State.

Claire Waxman Founder and Co -Director of Voice4Victims said ‘Voice4Victims has seen an extraordinary rise in the number of perpetrators initiating legal proceedings against their victims, in order to emotionally harm them and continue unwanted contact with them. It’s very worrying that the Courts, Police and CPS are not recognising this abuse and often collude with the perpetrator by sanctioning it. Our campaign will ensure that this abuse is recognised and that the courts and agencies understand that these perpetrators are fixated and that they do not have an absolute right to bring these legal claims, when they are doing it just to further their objective of harming and harassing their victim.”

Harry Fletcher Co -Director of Voice4Victims said “There is an urgent need for training on abuse of process for all involved in the Courts and Justice System. Perpetrators are able to assert their basic human right to continue to abuse victims through the legal system. The Bill being drafted by Voice4Victims will ensure that perpetrators can no longer use vexatious applications and complaints to the Courts and the Police and that the victim’s safety is paramount”.

Link to Abuse of Process report abuse-of-process-28th-november-report-final-1-pdf

Speak Your Mind