Due to the current Coronovirus pandemic and Government Guidance on social distancing and ‘lock down’ conditions, victims of domestic abuse may find themselves confined to the same household as their perpetrators.
Just because normal life has been suspended does not mean that perpetrators of domestic abuse stop their behaviour. We want to reassure you that our Emergency Protective Injunction Team is still functioning, and we are ready to act quickly to obtain Non-molestation and Occupation Orders on an urgent basis.
We are still able to make urgent applications to the Court on behalf of our clients. The Courts are now dealing with emergency protection injunction applications ‘remotely’ i.e. by telephone or video conference. We have already represented clients at these remote telephone hearings and secured the urgent protection they need.
So how do ‘remote’ hearings work?
We will arrange a telephone appointment with you to take the necessary information needed to apply for an injunction (Non-molestation Order or Occupation Order). This will include information on your relationship (past or present) with the perpetrator, the history of abuse and your financial information to apply for legal aid to cover the costs of your case*. Our team are experienced in these matters and we understand these are sensitive issues that can be difficult to discuss. We will do all we can to ensure you feel comfortable but we will also act robustly to secure the necessary protection.
We will draft a statement on your behalf to provide an in-depth account of the abuse you have suffered – members of our team are working remotely and we will take your instructions over the telephone. We will draft the Court application and all other required documents. You will need to provide us with an email account so that we can send your witness statement to you for approval. If you do not have access to email, we can go through your statement with you over the telephone. Due to the current pandemic the Courts are accepting unsigned documents, however if you are able to sign documents using a mobile phone, tablet or computer that would be preferable.
We will then send your application to the Court urgently by email.
If you are at significant risk, we can make an application to the Court on the same day without notice being given to the perpetrator. Once received, the Court’s Legal Advisor will decide when the application should be heard by a Judge and in some cases this can be on the same day.
The Judge will contact you and your representative on the day of the hearing by telephone. If the Judge grants the protective injunction we will arrange to serve the order on the perpetrator and on the local police force.
The Family Courts are still functioning and our team is still working hard to secure protection for our clients.
*Most people will qualify for legal aid, in a small minority of cases the Legal Aid Agency may require a ‘contribution’ to the costs.