Lady Hale: The word violence has several meanings
Men and women who shout at their partners risk being thrown out of their homes under a sweeping ruling by judges yesterday.
Raising your voice at a husband or wife, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, now counts as domestic violence under the landmark Supreme Court judgment.
The decision also means that denying money to a partner or criticising them can count as violence and bring down draconian domestic violence penalties from the courts.
The Supreme Court made its decision in the case of a woman who left her husband’s council flat and then demanded a new council home.
She said she left because she had suffered domestic violence – even though her husband had never harmed her.
Lady Hale, leading a bench of five justices, said the definition of violence must change so that a range of abusive behaviour now counts in law.
The decision will affect domestic violence and family law which has given the courts powers to throw someone out of their home if their partner accuses them of violent behaviour. Until now violence has always had to mean physical assault.
The judges were hearing the case of Mihret Yemshaw, 35, who said she had been subjected to domestic violence and was entitled to be rehoused under the 1996 Housing Act.
Officials in Hounslow, West London, turned her down after hearing that her husband had never hit her nor threatened to do so.
Mrs Yemshaw told them he had shouted in front of their two children, failed to treat her like a human, had not given her housekeeping money, and she was scared he would take the children away from her.
A woman does not have to be physically attacked to be the victim of 'violence' - but could be shouted at repeatedly, the Supreme Court ruled (file picture)