Increasing the Role of Third Parties: Separate Legal Representation for Sexual Assault Victims in Ireland

Mary Iliadis1
1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Sexual assault cases have historically resulted in persistent victim dissatisfaction with, and alienation from, the prosecution process. As a result, some adversarial jurisdictions have moved somewhat contentiously towards integrating victim participation rights within the legal process to redress sexual assault victims’ procedural and substantive justice concerns. The introduction of s 34 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 (IRE), which allows a victim to access state funded legal representation to oppose a defendant’s application for the introduction of their sexual history evidence in court, is one such example. Drawing from interviews conducted with high-level criminal justice professionals, legal stakeholders and victim support workers, and an analysis of primary source documents, including legislation and reports, this paper argues that although s 34 has marked a unique response to protecting the sexual history evidence of victims in criminal trials, its various shortcomings may hinder its capacity to improve sexual assault victims’ procedural justice experiences in ways anticipated from its introduction.

Dr Mary Iliadis is a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University. Mary’s research adopts a socio-legal framework to examine, critique and impact legal policy concerning victims’ rights, with a particular focus on the rights afforded to victims of sexual violence. Mary’s research is international in its scope and explores the rights and protections afforded to victims across England and Wales, Ireland and Australia. More broadly, Mary researches prosecutorial discretion and access to justice issues. Mary’s research has gained traction in government circles and her findings were cited in the VLRC’s (2016) report on The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial, demonstrating a high-level of impact.


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