How NCDV will help you

The NCDV usually help you obtain an emergency injunction within 24 hours from when you first contact us. The stages described below provide an outline of our usual procedure. The specifics of your case may mean that the steps involved are more complicated but we will explain them to you fully when we speak.

1. We assess your eligibility for an emergency injunction

You (the applicant) and the respondent need to be ‘associated persons’

This is determined by s.62(3) of the Family Law Act 1996. The list of associated persons is very wide-ranging, covering all family relationships.

For an emergancy application there has been a recent use or threat of physical violence

It is (usually) only a recent use or threat of physical violence within the last 10 days that will entitle someone to make an emergency application (this may be extended if there are bail conditions or the respondent has been in prison etc).

2. We identify the best course of action for your case

If you are eligible for legal aid  we will work alongside a firm of solicitors

NCDV’s Solicitors' Panel consists of Legal Aid solicitors who will provide you with publicly funded legal representation. The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has recently stated that nearly everyone is entitled to legal aid on the basis that those with higher earnings or capital will be asked to make a contribution to the cost. Please note this cost may not be payable (eg. people on a low income can be entitled to full legal aid without contributions) and any potential contributions are only ever payable to the LAA – our service is provided 100% free of charge.

If you are not eligible for legal aid we will help you for free.

If you are not eligible for legal aid, or cannot afford the Legal Aid contributions, we will allocate you a McKenzie Friend if there is one available in your area – they are trained, experienced caseworkers who can prepare the injunction application on your behalf and assist you at court (in most circumstances).

3. A caseworker will contact you to prepare your injunction application

A caseworker will  take a statement from you (usually over the telephone)

as soon as we get your referral we will call you. We will prepare a statement that sets out why you need the injunction. Once completed, we can arrange a time for you to go to court. NCDV will also help you to arrange to serve the order to make sure that having obtained the injunction, the respondent is found and served with the injunction. This is explained in more detail by the helpline adviser and caseworker.

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.”