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11 MAR 2011

LOCAL AUTHORITY/DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Yemshaw v Hounslow London Borough Council [2011] UKSC 3

(Supreme Court; Lord Hope of Craighead DPSC, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry; Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood JJSC; 26 January 2011)

The wife left the matrimonial home with her two young children and sought the help of the local housing authority. In interviews with housing officers, she complained of her husband's behaviour, which included shouting in front of the children, and stated that she was scared that if she confronted him he might hit her. The officers decided that she was not homeless as her husband had never actually hit her or threatened to do so.

On a review, the panel noted that the root cause of her homelessness was not that she had fled after a domestic incident and believed the probability of domestic violence to be low. They concluded that it was reasonable for her to continue to occupy the matrimonial home.

Supreme Court unanimously held that ‘domestic violence' in such cases includes psychological as well as physical abuse.

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