08 Mar 2022

Hogan Lovells publishes 'first of its kind' report to help lawyers working with survivors of economic abuse

Guidance focuses on legally recognised form of abuse involving control of a partner or ex-partner’s resources

HOGAN LOVELLS law firm sign and entrance

Hogan Lovells' office in Washington DC DCStockPhotography; Shutterstock

Hogan Lovells has published new practical guidance for lawyers working with survivors of economic abuse to increase awareness surrounding economic abuse in the civil and criminal justice systems in the UK. 

The guidance, contained in the firm’s pro bono report titled ‘Legal Remedies for Economic Abuse’, was published in collaboration with Surviving Economic Abuse, a UK-based charity dedicated to raising awareness around the issue of economic abuse, to mark International Women's Day. The report seeks to equip legal professionals with practical tools for helping survivors come into adequate compensation and receive justice for the actions taken against them, the firm said today. 

The report, which the firm said it believed to be the first of its kind in focusing on reparations for survivors of economic abuse specifically, was authored by Hogan Lovells partner Richard Lewis, senior associate Rhian Lewis and associate Jade Rigby, who worked alongside Surviving Economic Abuse and a number of pro bono volunteers to generate the guidance.

“This report covers a range of possible routes of reparation for those who have experienced abuse who are or were in an intimate relationship with their perpetrator at a relatively high level, to be as helpful as possible to as many people as possible,” Lewis said. “We are pleased to have worked on the report alongside Surviving Economic Abuse Charity”.

Economic abuse, a legally recognised form of domestic abuse, involves the control of a partner or ex-partner’s economic resources, including money and what money can buy, such as accommodation, food or transport. It impacts one in six women in the UK, according to the charity, and tends to trap victims in abusive situations as a result of their economic means being controlled by their abuser. 

By publishing actionable guidance for lawyers, Hogan Lovells said it hoped to provide an innovative focus on the reparations for survivors of a form of domestic abuse that is ‘rarely given a focus in public and political spheres’. 

Some of the key focus areas of change highlighted in the report include the recommendation for prosecutors to use the Controlling or Coercive Behaviour offence in tandem with other charges that are easier to stand up when relevant. 

It also calls on legal professionals to advocate for occupation orders that set out financial provisions to help victims secure housing and improve their financial security and flexibility to reshape their lives. Victims should also be exempt from the legal aid means test so that they can secure adequate legal support to access remedies for economic abuse, the report suggests. 

Nicola Sharp Jeffs, CEO and founder of Surviving Economic Abuse, said it was “vital” that the legal sector focused on finding routes to compensation for survivors to gain economic justice and as a means for those experiencing abuse “to gain the economic safety which is often jeapordised by such abuse”.  

“We are delighted to have worked with Hogan Lovells to produce this report which provides practical steps for professionals to use legal channels available to them and help survivors move on with their lives,” she said. 

Last month, Hogan Lovells joined Travers Smith, Debevoise & Plimpton, Gibson Dunn, Latham & Watkins, Reed Smith and Slaughter and May in launching the Domestic Abuse Response Alliance, an initiative dedicated to providing pro bono legal advice and representation to survivors of domestic abuse in need of protective injunctions in the UK. 

The firm also appointed its first-ever international pro bono partner last year when it promoted pro bono director Yasmin Waljee to the partnership in January, nearly 25 years after Waljee became the firm’s first dedicated UK pro bono lawyer in 1997. 

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