Could a free toolkit help lawyers & charities solve UK’s domestic violence crisis?
To celebrate International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Chayn will be hosting a private launch of “How To Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer” toolkit on 25th November. This DIY toolkit is a free resource for women facing domestic violence, NGOs helping them and lawyers who can use it as a resource for under-funded clients or clients they cannot help. The event will be featuring talks on Immigration and Family law by Garden Court Chambers’ Louise Hooper and Rebekah Wilson; our very own Agnieszka Fal will presenting the methodology of the guide and a survivor of domestic violence will be sharing her experience.
In 2012, the UK’s Coalition Government passed LASPO (the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Offenders Act) which caused barristers to protest against the statute’s impact. Domestic abuse affects 1 in 3 women in the UK and with legal aid cuts of up to 60% for family law cases, the most vulnerable women have been left at risk given that financial abuse plays a significant role in most cases. It has now become expensive for women to hire a solicitor, and navigating the complex legal space of creating a case for criminal charges, child custody or asylum poses a significant cognitive challenge, specially for those who are dealing with trauma. To even qualify for legal aid, for instance, the required evidence includes a police caution, protective injunction, and residence in a refuge which all must be dated in the last two years. Due to the major drop in funding, Rights of Women stated that “nearly 60% of women took no legal recourse,” as a result of being ineligible for Legal Aid. Dramatic cuts to domestic violence services funding means that the third sector is fighting a losing battle against resources for supporting women in these difficult times.
Women are now left with two choices, which is to either privately hire a solicitor or to represent themselves in court where, in some cases, would mean to be cross examined by their abuser.
In response to these challenges, Chayn developed the crowdsourced toolkit, How To Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer. This was written with the help of survivors and lawyers, as well as people who work with survivors. It is designed as a how to guide for any woman facing domestic violence, and especially for those who want to take legal action without having to hire a private solicitor.
As the guide is openly licensed (CC by Attribution), it can be branded by any firm or NGO as their own and they can adjust it to suit their audience. We are reaching out to charities working with male and LGBTQI survivors of domestic abuse who can also use this guide.
The launch event has been graciously sponsored by Garden Court Chambers and the space is being provided in-kind by Nwspk House. If you are a charity or lawyer working with survivors of abuse and would like to attend the event, please request an invite by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot make it, the guide can be downloaded from here.
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