The offence of controlling and coercive behaviour has returned to the public spotlight as the result of former footballer and current manager of the Wales National Football Team, Ryan Giggs, facing allegations of assault upon his ex-partner and, possibly, another woman.

The alleged misconduct, to which Mr. Giggs has entered ‘not guilty’ pleas, is alleged to have occurred between 1 December 2017 and 2 November 2020. 

According to reports, worldwide increase in domestic abuse may have increased by as much as twenty per cent during the various Covid lockdowns and which have forced households to spend more time within the confines of their homes. 

This increase has resulted in more police investigations and prosecutions through the courts and, at Kangs Solicitors, Helen Holder has recently successfully represented a professional male client who had been investigated by Sussex Police following allegations made by his wife. 

The case against our client was concluded with no action being taken against him.  

Kangs Solicitors has a proven track record spanning more than twenty years of successfully representing clients accused of sexual and domestic violence offences. 

The law relating to controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship came into force on 29 December 2015 and we have been defending cases since its implementation. For details of an early case conducted by us please follow this link.

We have acted in many high-profile investigations relating to domestic and sexual violence such as the wide-ranging Metropolitan Police investigation ‘Operation Yewtree’.

Recognised as one of the leading criminal defence firms in the country, we are top ranked in Band 1 and Tier 1 for our work in this area by both the leading legal directories Chambers UK and the Legal 500.

Our reputation as a leading criminal defence firm is further recognised by two further awards:

We appreciate the strain on individuals and their families when facing allegations of a sexual or domestic violence nature and we are here to assist you to alleviate such difficulties and pressures.

Our team can be contacted for confidential and discrete advice as follows:

What is Controlling and Coercive Behaviour? | Kangs Offences Against The Person Defence Solicitors

The Government definition, which is not a legal definition, of the behaviour provides that:

  • coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
  • controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

The Relevant Law | Controlling and Coercive Behaviour | Kangs Solicitors

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created the offence and came into force on the 29 December 2015.  It is not retrospective with the effect that any allegations made before this date are not taken into consideration. 

The offence is committed by a person (A) if:

  • A repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive; and
  • at time of the behaviour, A and B are personally connected; and
  • the behaviour has a serious effect on B; and
  • A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.

A and B are personally connected if:

  • they are in an intimate personal relationship; or
  • they live together and are either members of the same family; or
  • they live together having previously been in an intimate personal relationship with each other.

There are two ways in which it can be proved that A’s behaviour has a ‘serious effect’ on B:

  • it causes B to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against B; or
  • it causes B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B’s day-to-day activities.

The behaviour must be engaged repeatedly or continuously.  Some of the types of behaviour that may have a substantial effect on B’s activities may include:

  • isolation from friends or family;
  • monitoring of time;
  • monitoring of movements;
  • monitoring of communications;
  • control being taken over aspects of everyday life, such as restriction on movement, clothes worn and time and places for sleep;
  • repeated ‘put downs’;
  • finances being controlled;
  • threats of private information being revealed or published.

Potential Defences | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors

Any person charged with such an offence may have a defence if it can be shown that:    

  • in engaging in the behaviour in question, that person believed that he or she was acting in the victim’s best interest; and
  • the behaviour in all the circumstances was reasonable.

This defence is not available where the behaviour complained of has caused fear to the victim on at least two previous occasions that violence will be used.      

Sentencing Powers | Controlling & Coercive Behaviour Defence Solicitors

The offence of controlling and coercive behaviour is an ‘either way’ offence which means that it can be dealt with in either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.

  • Conviction in the Magistrates’ Court may result in a fine, imprisonment for a maximum period of six months, or both,
  • Conviction in the Crown Court may result in imprisonment for a maximum period of five years, a fine or both.

Additionally, a defendant may also be made the subject of a Restraining Order on conviction and even on acquittal, in appropriate circumstances.

Who Can I Contact For Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors

Our expert 24/7 Rapid Response Police Station Team is here to assist you on 07989 521 210 should you require advice and assistance out of office hours.

We welcome enquiries by telephone or email.

We provide an initial no obligation consultation from our offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Alternatively, we provide initial consultations by telephone or video conferencing.


Helen Holder
0121 449 9888 | 0161 817 5020

Suki Randhawa
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396

Amandeep Murria
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396