Legal aid FAQs - domestic violence proceedings

Q1.   My client needs to seek urgent protection from the court. How do I make this application?

The Agency expect these proceedings to be taken in the Domestic Proceedings Court (DPC), in which case the application will be for representation (lower courts), unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary.

Given the time sensitive nature of these proceedings, we expect that any Representation Higher applications would be made as an emergency application. If the case is before the judge on the same day/next working day and you cannot make your application on LAMS then you should use the representation lower urgent notification procedure or the representation higher emergency procedure, provided for in Circular LSANI 25/19.

For guidance on how to submit an application including an emergency application request in LAMS, refer to Section 18.0 of the LAMS Supplier Manual and ‘Submitting an emergency application’ in the Instructional Videos.

Q2.   My client is a minor. Which level of service should I request?

The Agency expect these proceedings to be taken in the DPC, by way of a ‘Next Friend’. Only in circumstances where the DPC has refused to accept the application, or where the solicitor has satisfied themselves that the minor has sufficient understanding to take the proceedings in the High Court should a representation higher application be made. In these circumstances, we will require evidence that the DPC has refused to accept the case and will require an overt statement from the solicitor that they deem the minor to have such capacity.

If making an application for representation lower or representation higher, the minor will be the applicant and the next friend details should be completed under associated party.

Q3.   My client needs urgent protection from the court but is not financially eligible for representation lower. How can I progress this matter?

Regulation 10 of the Civil Legal Services (Financial) Regulations (NI) Order provides a waiver of eligibility limits for applications for Non Molestation Orders under Article 20 of the Domestic Violence (NI) Order 1998. The solicitor should complete the Domestic violence Waiver form and upload same as a supporting document to the application.

Q4.   What information does LSANI require?

We require:

  • Explanation of the relationship between the applicant and the proposed defendant (confirming whether they are ‘associated persons’ as defined in the 1998 Order, article 3).
  • Summary of the incidents giving rise to the application.
  • Summary of any police involvement to date, why the police were or were not called, and the outcome of any police action to include any charges and pending criminal proceedings.
  • Identification of any key corroborating evidence such as police reports, CCTV or voicemails.

Where the application includes a request for legal aid to bring an application for an Occupation Order:

  • Confirmation of the client’s and the defendant’s status and interest in the property.
  • Summary of the housing needs and resources of both parties, with reference to the requirements of article 11(6) of the 1998 Order.

Q5.   What documentation should I provide with my application?

We will require:

  • If defending, a full copy of the proceedings, including the full statement of the applicant and a detailed statement from the client setting out their response to same.
  • Any relevant police reports.
  • Transfer Order [if applicable] and proceedings.
  • Additional supporting documents e.g. social media comments, text messages, proofs of evidence or preliminary documentation required by the higher court in accordance with case law.
  • Any relevant interparty correspondence.

For guidance on how to upload a document in LAMS, refer to ‘Uploading a document’ in the Instructional Videos.

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