From 10 September 2019, for any family law proceedings where there are allegations of family violence, the court may say there is a ban on personal cross-examination.
If personal cross-examination is banned by the court, cross-examination will need to be conducted by a lawyer. A person can organise their own lawyer or, if the person is unrepresented, they can they can apply to the Commonwealth Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties Scheme for a lawyer. All parties in the family law proceedings will need to have a lawyer for cross-examination to occur.
What is personal cross-examination?
Personal cross-examination is where a party asks questions of another party or witness directly, rather than having questions asked by a legal representative.
When is there a ban on personal cross-examination?
A ban on personal cross-examination may apply in any family law proceeding where there is an allegation of family violence between the people involved. The ban may apply automatically, or the court may make the decision to impose a ban. Either way the court will make it clear in an order that the ban applies to the proceedings.
Applying to the Commonwealth Family Violence and Cross-Examination of Parties Scheme for a lawyer
Legal aid commissions have been given specific funding so that they can provide legal representation to people where a ban on personal cross examination has been made. Access to this scheme is not limited by your financial circumstances or the details of your case, but you may be asked to contribute to the cost of your legal representation. This will depend on your ability to pay and your circumstances. Conditions apply to legal representation under the scheme and ongoing legal representation in your proceedings is not automatic.
To get a lawyer through the scheme, you must complete the Family Violence and Cross Examination Scheme application form. You should also give us a copy of the order where the court has said that a ban on personal cross-examination applies in your proceedings.
Download the Commonwealth Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties Scheme application form.
Return the completed form to:
The application form can also be obtained from:
A lawyer may assist you to complete the application form but this does not guarantee that the same lawyer will be able to represent you. All application forms for funding under the scheme must be sent to the above email address or by post. Applications received through our online grants ATLAS system cannot be accepted.
After we have received the application form
Once we receive a completed application form, we will check our record of orders to make sure that the court has made an order that the ban applies in your matter. If we have no record, we will let you know that no funding can be provided until an order is made by the court.
Where a ban applies and an order has been made, we will find you a lawyer who may be from our organisation or a private lawyer who does family law work for legal aid clients. You will be allocated a lawyer depending on their capacity to take on matters and their location. If you have nominated a specific lawyer to represent you, we will consider this when allocating your matter.
We will aim to get you a lawyer, and provide funding, at least six weeks before the hearing date when cross-examination will occur.
A letter will be sent to you and your allocated lawyer which will set out what assistance has been approved, and any conditions that may apply. These conditions may include asking that you contribute financially to the cost of providing you with legal representation. We will also inform the court that legal assistance has been approved for the purposes of cross-examination.
Funding provided under the scheme
The scheme will pay for a lawyer to prepare and represent you at a hearing where personal cross-examination may occur. In most cases, this hearing will be the final hearing/trial. Funding may be provided for other hearings where cross-examination is likely to occur.
Download the information sheet
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
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Reviewed 10 November 2022