Frequently Asked Questions

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you do not find a satisfactory answer or would like to discuss anything through in person.

In the majority of situations the answer is yes, it really can. An injunction is a powerful court order (non-molestation order) that prohibits an abuser from using or threatening violence against you, or harassing, pestering or intimidating you. If the order is breached, the police can then arrest that person immediately.

They are particularly useful when, having responded to your 999 phone call, the police find little evidence that warrants the arrest for a criminal offence. Sadly the police’s hands can be tied by the high burden of proof of the criminal law that often prevents them from being able to remove the abuser right then. An injunction allows for this arrest to take place much easier, however, so you have the confidence and peace of mind to know the legal system is on your side.

The feedback from survivors also suggests that the mere existence of an injunction can have a dramatic effect on the abuser’s behaviour. For the first time, an abuser will see that ‘other people’ are involved and there will be serious consequences if the abuse continues. This new time and space can then give you the confidence to take control of the situation again and rebuild your life abuse free.

NCDVs service is offered 100% free of charge, we have never charged a victim and we never will.

There may, however, be certain costs that need to be considered for an injunction application, such as a possible contribution towards legal aid. For those who are unable to afford any contribution to legal aid and therefore represent themselves, there may be a process serving cost and there is a court charge to make an application for a prohibited steps order. There are no court fees to make an application for a non-molestation order or occupation order. Any costs will be explained to you in full.

We do not charge to speak to anyone, whatever their income.

We always conduct a rapid means test. If your disposable income is below a certain level, you may qualify for free legal aid. If your disposable income is over that level, you would have to make a contribution to the legal aid costs. If you do not wish to pay that contribution, we can introduce you to a firm of solicitors who are happy to accept stage payments for the work they do.

We can help you represent yourself. We would draft your witness statement for you, prepare your Court application form and provide you with a McKenzie Friend (subject to area and availability) for support at Court. We make no charge for helping you in this way.

Our main concern is your personal safety and we will endeavour to help you secure this.

We will not judge any decision you make if, for example, you prefer to wait several weeks before making an injunction application. We would, however, be doing you a disservice if we did not explain the possible legal implications this may have. This is because, yes, time is an issue in law. To make an emergency application there will usually need to be a recent use or threat of violence within, at the most, the last seven days (this may be different if, for example, someone has been in hospital for several weeks prior to making an application or there have been bail conditions for the last month).

This means that an application for an injunction on an emergency basis, must be made as soon as possible. The law does not say ‘as soon as conveniently possible’ because this is inconsistent with an urgent need for protection. Of course, the benefits of obtaining an injunction sooner rather than later are self-explanatory – you have a stronger case and legal protection much quicker than otherwise.

This is sometimes not a problem and there may be other reasons that would still warrant an emergency injunction application.

The most common reasons are when someone has been in hospital, or the abuser has been serving a prison sentence or released with bail conditions following an arrest. When there has been a significant period of time since the last incident, there are two options.

When there has been a significant period of time since the last incident, NCDV could help you make an ‘on notice’ application for an injunction.

An injunction obtained ‘on notice’ is exactly the same as an injunction obtained ‘without notice’ on an emergency basis.

The only difference is the procedure under which the application is made. When an application is made for an injunction ‘without notice’ on an emergency basis, you go to court for that first hearing without the abuser knowing anything at all about the application. Whereas an application made on notice, means being given a future court date when the injunction application will be heard with both yourself and the abuser present.

The injunction would have the same powers attached to it and the police could arrest immediately if the order is breached.

Our main concern is your protection and welfare, so it is not a problem if you choose to take no further action with us. We will, of course, discuss your decision with you to make sure you feel safe and secure, so please make sure you call to let us know. If you change your mind, simply get back in touch and we will pick up your case from where we left – no one will judge you for having changed your mind.

However, you should be aware, as detailed in the above paragraphs, that time is an issue and if you change your mind after a number of weeks for example and there has not been another incident, then it may be that your application would have to be made ‘on notice’.

If it is appropriate a prohibited steps order could prevent someone from taking a child away from your care and control. The solicitors we refer your case to will determine if this is a recommended course of action.
We are here to help you but you can help us by keeping us informed of any changes in your circumstances. If you have a voicemail, text message or email asking you to call us, please do so as soon as conveniently possible.
When we started in 2003 our service only covered London. Over the years we have expanded to cover most of England and our plan is to eventually cover England completely.

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By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

“Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”