On appeal from: [2009] EWCA Civ 1543.

The meaning of “violence” in the Housing Act 1996, s 177(1), in the context of “domestic violence”, should be understood as including physical violence, threatening or intimidating behaviour and any other form of abuse which, directly or indirectly, may give rise to the risk of harm. By the time of the 1996 Act, both international and national governmental understanding of the term “domestic violence” had developed beyond physical contact.

“Violence” is not a term of art. It is capable of bearing several meanings and applying to many different types of behaviour. These can change and develop over time. The essential question is whether an updated meaning is consistent with the statutory purpose. The purpose is to ensure that a person is not obliged to remain living in a home where she, her children or other members of her household are at risk of harm. A further purpose is that the victim of domestic violence has a real choice between remaining in er home and seeking protection from the criminal or civil law and leaving to begin a new life elsewhere.

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