Section 39 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018, which came into effect on 1 January 2019, provides that the offence of coercive control is committed where a person knowingly and persistently engages in a behaviour that:
(a) is controlling or coercive
(b) has a serious effect on a relevant person and
(c) a reasonable person would consider likely to have a serious effect on a relevant person.
Section 39(4) of the Act provides that a person is a relevant person in respect of another person if he or she
(a) is the spouse or civil partner of that other person, or
(b) is not the spouse or civil partner of that person and is not related to that other person within a prohibited degree of relationship, but is or was in an intimate relationship with that other person.
The legislation was drafted following detailed discussion in the Oireachtas and in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Garda Síochána and the Courts Service.
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 has been fully in operation since 1 January 2019 and improves the protections available to victims of domestic violence under both the civil and criminal law. While all new legislation takes some time to bed in, the effectiveness of the innovative new offence of coercive control for the categories set out in Section 39(4) will take some time to evaluate, given that a pattern of persistent behaviour as provided for in Section 39(1) needs to be established. If the Deputy wishes to bring to my attention any issues in relation to the matter, I will arrange to have it examined.