Controlling or coercive behavior encompasses activity intended to make a victim subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their financial resources and /or ability to seek potential financial gain, deprivation of the means of independence, resistance and escape and the regulation of daily behavior.

John Veale of Kangs Solicitors comments upon the legislation.

The Law | Kangs Offences Against The Person Defence Solicitors

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 introduced the new offence of controlling or coercive behavior (‘the offence’) and  is designed to deal with such behavior within a family or intimate relationship.

Previously, it had been difficult to prove a pattern of behavior in a family/intimate relationship that amounted to harassment.

The offence came into force on 29th December 2015, is not retrospective and only affects conduct since that date.

The Offence | Kangs Offences Against The Person Advisory Team

The offence is committed if:

  • the accused continuously or repeatedly behaves towards the complainant in a controlling or coercive way
  • at the time of such behavior the accused and the complainant are personally connected.
  • the behaviour has a serious effect on the complainant
  • the accused knows or ought to know that their behaviour will have a serious effect on the complainant, which is judged by the standards of a reasonable person.

Personally Connected

The accused and the complainant are personally connected if they:

  • are in an intimate relationship
  • live together and are members of the same family
  • live together and have previously been in an intimate relationship.


The controlling or coercive behavior includes:

  • socially isolating someone
  • controlling finances
  • denying access to support services, such as GP or social services
  • threats to harm or kill
  • controlling everyday activities
  • preventing attendance at work or educational institution
  • behaviour used to retain the family honour.

Serious Effect

Behaviour has a serious effect if:             

  • it causes fear on at least two occasions that violence will be used
  • it causes serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s day to day activities such as, the aggravation or invocation of physical or mental illness, taking measures to avoid potential harm and changes to work, education or home routines.

Potential Defences | Kangs National Criminal Defence Team

There exists a potential defence for the accused if it can be shown:

  • they believed that they were acting in the complainant’s best interest and
  • the behavior was reasonable in all the circumstances.

Sentence Upon Conviction | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors

  • This offence can be tried either at the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
  • A conviction at a Crown Court can attract a maximum prison sentence of five years and/or a fine.
  • A conviction at a Magistrates’ Court can result in a maximum prison sentence of six months and/or a fine.

How Can Kangs Solicitors Assist ? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors

If arrested of any criminal offence, it is essential that you have the support and guidance of experienced solicitor’s right from the outset.

At Kangs we have an experienced team defending clients in all aspects of the criminal law on a daily basis.

Our team is led by Hamraj Kang who is recognised as a leading expert in the field by both legal directories Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.

Other members of the team are ranked in the Legal 500 and also ranked in Chambers & Partners.

Please not hesitate to contact any of the following who will be happy to discuss your problem with you: 

Hamraj Kang
07976 258171 | 020 7936 6396 | 0121 449 9888

John Veale
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07989 521 210

Helen Holder
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396