The UK’s family courts are not safe places for victims of domestic violence because some judges there hold “outdated views” on sexual violence and issues of consent, according to a letter signed by 130 lawyers and professionals.

The public intervention comes in response to a widely criticised judgment last year by Judge Robin Tolson QC in the family court, in which he ruled that since a woman had not taken physical steps to stop her partner from assaulting her it did not constitute rape.

Last month, Tolson’s decision was overturned by the high court. Ms Justice Russell said the judge’s approach towards the issue of consent was “manifestly at odds” with current jurisprudence. Russell suggested training may be needed for family court judges when considering allegations of sexual assault. 

The letter from victims’ organisations and lawyers dealing with family court cases on Wednesday goes further, calling for Tolson’s current cases to be reviewed.

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