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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I am looking to seek advice on behalf of my girlfriend. We

Customer Question

Good Afternoon,
My name is***** and i am looking to seek advice on behalf of my girlfriend. We believe that the information given below may constitute a Civil and/or Criminal Law matter, and we look for advice under Scottish Law.
My girlfriend Susan, is currently seeking a Residence Order and Specific Issue order, due to her estranged husband making false accusations and making her out to be a bad parent. He accused Susan of Child Abduction and Falsifying documents, all of which we have evidence pointing to the contrary of. However, it is my understanding that this could be deemed as Lible or Slander? Or even defatmation of character? Susan does not wish to prosecute at the moment, but in the result of further false accusations being made, she wishes to sue her estranged husband for the allegations.
He also resorts to scare tactics and bullying. He accused Susan of Child Abduction after receiving inaccurate information from the Airline we were due to fly abroad with. Susan and i were due to go on holiday to South Africa with her son and her mother. Susan's husband informed Susan the evening before we were due to fly, that he refused to give his consent. In his email documenting that Susan was in breach of Child Abduction Laws and falsified documents (fraud), which are completely untrue, he then used this as ground to try and scare Susan into signing an arrangement that he said he would draft up. Although this is not a direct threat, this is controlling and coercive behavior, and resulted in Susan being immensely upset and distressed, which in turn her son picked up on, also causing him to be distressed.
Does this constitute grounds of Controlling and Coercive behaviour under the Serious Crime Act 2015? or, does this fall under the bracket of Slander/Defamation of Character?
Susan has been continuously subjected to this behavior since March 1st 2016.
Any help or advice you can give us would be greatly appreciated.
Kindest Regards, *****
Submitted: 23 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JGM replied 23 days ago.

False accusations can be termed defamatory under Scots law which is a word that includes both libel and slander which are in fact English law terms. Defamation is the making of either verbal or written statements about a person which are false as a result of which the victim suffers financial loss or injury to reputation. That would appear to be the case here although in practice very few such cases are raised in the circumstances you describe. Actions for defamation are expensive and no legal aid is available. Proceedings which could be related to the family law proceedings, such as interdict or a protection from harassment order are more common. All of these remedies, including defamation, are civil court remedies, not criminal. However, as you correctly identify, the 2015 Act adds a criminal dimension to the situation. Subject to what evidence is available this could be reported to the police as controlling coercive and behaviour and they would almost certainly have to refer this to the procurator fiscal for a decision on whether or not to prosecute given that this is a very new law. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.

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