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Posted on 23 May 2023

Rape Victims should get free, independent legal advice, according to Law Commission proposals. 

Posted in Legal news

Read time: 2 minutes

The Law Commission has today (23 May 2023) published proposals for reform of sexual offences prosecutions. 

See https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/views-sought-on-proposals-to-counter-effects-of-rape-myths-in-sexual-offence-trials/

Victims of rape and sexual assault need to be treated humanely and given advice and support around the court process. 

Judges, under the new proposals, will be given powers to block evidence about rape victims’ previous sexual behaviour being used in court to protect their dignity in line with the rules used in Canada’s criminal code. 
Victims should be given independent legal advice and representation to allow them to make informed decision about the way their evidence is given and used. 

Commenting on the new proposals, Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner, said:
“The way that the criminal justice system handles rape and serious sexual offences … leaves prosecutions at risk from the impact of pervasive rape myths, and can often cause distress and trauma” 

The proposals also include giving victims an automatic right to give evidence by video link, or in private; stricter controls on defence barristers lines of cross examination, in some cases having to seek prior approval  from the judge; and a process for disclosure and use of a complainant's personal records including counselling notes, which would be again overseen by the judge.

In a statement published online today Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) said:

“Victims and survivors should be treated with dignity and respect throughout the criminal justice process…. The criminal justice system [currently] retraumatises victims and reinforces victim blaming at every turn.”

We are specialist sexual assault and rape solicitors, working to help you get compensation for rape as a victim. So if you would like to explore criminal injuries compensation for rape victims please do get in touch. We also have a rape victim compensation calculator you can use.

If you have ever suffered sexual assault or abuse, or been involved in the judicial process for a similar case there are places to turn to for support.