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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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SEXUAL ABUSE: H v L and R [2006] EWHC 3099 (Fam)
Date:2 JAN 2007

(Family Division; Mr Justice Roderic Wood; 7 December 2006)

By analogy with the provisions of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (the 1999 Act), an adult witness should not be cross-examined by a litigant in person in the family courts in relation to allegations of the kind covered by s 62 of the 1999 Act (sexual offences). This raised a difficulty given the increasing number of litigants in person. Urgent attention was needed to the creation of a new statutory provision to provide for representation in such circumstances. In some cases the child's guardian might be able to cross-examine the adult witness in relation to allegations of sexual abuse, but that had not been appropriate in this case. It was not appropriate to call on CAFCASS Legal, the Official Solicitor, or the Attorney-General for assistance in such cases, although exceptionally the Attorney-General had assisted the court in this case. Only exceptionally should a judge exercising the family jurisdiction cross-examine a witness in such circumstances.