Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed a decision to scrap domestic violence injunction fees, but is extremely concerned about the impact of legal aid cuts on other court protections which victims of domestic violence may need.
She also fears that other fee changes could restrict access to justice.
The £75 fee for domestic violence injunctions will cease from April 22, as part of an overhaul of fees charged in civil and family courts in England and Wales.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, says removing the injunction fee will help vulnerable domestic abuse victims to get the help they need.
Vera Baird said: “However this has to be seen in the context of cuts in legal aid which could mean women suffering from domestic violence would have difficulty in getting other help from the courts, such as secure arrangements for parenting and child contact.”
She is further concerned that increases to other fees charged in civil and family courts, might prevent some people from getting access to justice.
Vera Baird said: “I welcome the decision to scrap the £75 application fee for domestic violence injunctions which will help women seeking non-molestation and occupation orders.
“But I am concerned that increasing other fees could deter some people from seeking justice if they cannot afford to pay those fees.“
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will go ahead with a series of changes to court fees including increasing the fees for permission to apply for judicial review and for permission to proceed, and for cases involving claims for money.