How The Law Can Protect You

It is important to know that whatever decision you make, NCDV will support and listen to you.

What is an Injunction?

The word ‘injunction’ describes any court order that makes someone act or forbids someone from acting in a certain way. An emergency injunction is an informal description for a court order made without notice/ex parte – it means the person you are applying against will not be aware of the injunction until it is served on him/her. The three most common kinds of an emergency injunction that provide protection against domestic violence are explained below.

Types of Injunction

1. How it protects you.

Usually forbids an abuser from:

Using or threatening physical violence. Intimidating, harassing or pestering you. Communicating with you (if appropriate).  It will also forbid an abuser to instruct or encourage others to do these acts.

In some circumstances, it can also include a clause preventing the abuser from coming within a certain distance of your home

Typically granted for 6 – 12 months. Arrestable offence if breached.

2. When you can apply.

Applicant and Respondent are associated persons

This is determined by s.62(3) of the Family Law Act 1996 and covers most relationships, including:

  • Partners and former partners
  • Family relations (including in-laws)
  • People who live(d) together
  • People who have children together

The recent use or threat of violence would enable you to make an emergency application. This usually means an incident within the last week (this may be extended if there have been bail conditions or the respondent has been in prison etc).

1. How it protects you.

Regulates the family home, such as:

  • Suspending rights to occupy or visit
  • Evicting an abuser from the home
  • Preventing an abuser from returning
  • 100 metres protection around the home in certain circumstances 
  • Can be granted for 6-12 months
  • A power of arrest can be attached in certain circumstances 
2. When you can apply.
  • Applicant and Respondent are associated persons under the FLA 1996 (see above)
  • Respondent has somewhere else to live (this is not always strictly necessary)
  • Recent use or threat of physical violence

Recent use or threat of physical violence → contact us immediately.

1. How it protects you.

  • Forbids someone with parental responsibility from taking your child away from your care and control
  • This order is particularly appropriate when the person threatening to take away your child(ren) is ordinarily allowed to have care and control of them.
  • No power of arrest attached though police may assist informally or if ordered to do so by the Court. Enforceable in the County Court as contempt of court.
  • Does not necessarily prevent all contact between the child(ren) and the respondent if appropriate in the circumstances and does not wholly remove a parent’s responsibility for the child(ren)
2. When you can apply.
  • Applicant has parental responsibility under the Children Act 1989 (this includes all mothers and many others)
  • Respondent has parental responsibility under the Children Act 1989 
  • The child is under the age of 16
  • Respondent has made a recent direct or indirect threat to remove a child from your care and control
  • Respondent has recently removed your child from your care and control, or attempted to do so, or made a direct or indirect threat to do so – within the last seven days.
  • It is in the best interests of the relevant child(ren) with regard to their overall welfare.

Recent threat to take your child → contact us immediately

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.”